At Rome Point

Late in their southern wintering
we’ve been told
a few seals remain

We approach 
through plantation-regular pine  
so quiet even squirrels 
leap without sound

We move past pines 
past bare briars 
past the rich black swamp 
where cabbage thumbs thrust green

At the unfamiliar beach 
whelks swing on twine strung on silvered branch
the point curves and we look for soft 
firm quiet sand 
but small shells stand yards deep 

A crab crawls the pile 
water glistens in slipper cups
the smell at once dead and alive  

When we reach the point 
when we see beyond the curve
empty waves lap 
small and stony
empty shore

I had imagined the seals
full sun snoring 
indifferent to our danger 
a lazy theater for our gaze

between the shore and 
a mansioned island we spy 
rocks and boulders 
some small black 
some large 
some marked yellow  
banded white by birds 
and tide

The ocean teases 

We watch for hours 
knowing them only 
when they move 
from brush stroke to curl 
the splash when they dive

Knowing them only
as they disappear

First published Rock & Sling, Spring 2022