I remember three magpies on the beach
Chasing the foam. The day was blue.
They pecked at something out of reach
Beyond the tide pool’s edge and flew.
I can’t be sure how much is true.
Sun glinting from a sea grape leaf,
A palm’s green shadow on the strand
Are now a matter of belief.
I say those scholars of the sand
Circled above the distant reef
Much as a thought circles the mind,
Circles and will not relent.
Whatever it was they hoped to find,
Those strangers to that element,
They disappeared beyond the sea
(Then several times in memory)
Like a cloud on the horizon does,
Or thread unravels from its clew;
The way that is slips into was;
The way that know turns into knew.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 35 Number 4, on page 56
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