The cedars shiver
the wind
hoisted up, piles
over the bluffs towering
and the sober gulls
glide slow
down the wind, turning,
shoaling in the cold air.
Beyond the window's panes the gulls return
sliding south beside the cedared bluff.
dusk darkened, cruciate,
above the wind-stiffened surf
and veiled rocks.

   Then turn around and turn around
   the old gray dog turns
   so stiff around
   turns and settles by the fire.

The wind driven waves turn inward
on the rock's stretched bulk
thrusting out of the sea,
prostrate headland snouting the stacks
like an ancient crocodile
that has lumbered from shore
and lies asleep in the long
sun of star spin
while the scaling cedars
shade her earthy back
and attendant gulls dip and keen
beyond the point.
Here at Earth's western edge
It was we that turned inward
behind the cliffs,
cut off from the gull's west wind,
and drove pilings deep
into the formless heart of sea.

The docks went in
and the mills ground down
the Siva-limbed cedars
into boards, fenceposts, rafters,
and we came to settle
this forested land.
Above the spray where the reptile rocks
downed straight to sea-surge
we stepped among the high gulls
upon the scaly haunches of stone
to hoist out the stripped cedars,
long logs lofted seaward
to burden the waiting schooners
leed in from land's end,
and gentled the dutiful logs
settling them to hold
on the long swells of the indifferent sea.
Beyond our green walls,
wars bred their strange litters.
Sea-scarred and earth-shocked, the progeny settled
turning the supple cedars hard
with blood-signed memories,
and Siva shook out sickened others
who sought peace,
seeding them into the turning forest
to sprout their roller-bladed,
nonchalant young.
Yet the seas still turned
around the south wind to oppose us,
slipping in by the sleeping sentry
on their white bellies
to murder the gull-shadowed ships
sheltering where we hauled them out
onto the dock's cradled world.
Ancient ships asleep in wheeled brackets,
parked and rusting,
shoaling on this split-timbered echo
of the cedared land.
We laid the rocky breakwater out
below the loading bluff and wheeling gulls,
flat-topped, put square to the sea,
to turn the long waves
where they bellied in
toward the laden dock.
But the waves still crawled
on white veils,
pregnant with sand, and they gave birth
behind the seawall,
and these children too stayed.
Their shoals emptied our harbor of the servile trees
as we have emptied our servile hills,
the spent cedars
sent north and away to other ports.
Now divers belly the white lace of wavy down
plucking urchins and hagfish
to feed the rude processing sheds
where the roe must shoal
and the eels dance away their skin
for the lusting gulls.
Unsubtle, yellow,
scotch broom stands against umber earth,
settling at roadside,
vibrant in this gray world of gull's wind
and men that will uproot
the shaken cedars' tall green.
Hundred-armed and doomed
they guard the broom-yellow lights
of the night dock and sleeping town
where we have shoaled
in the quietus we have made.
Beyond the panes,
the windowed gulls turn and return
gliding south along the siva-cedared bluffs,
soft crosses hoist above rock
and the doilying surf.

   So turn around
   and turn around.
   The old gray dog turns
   so stiff around.
   Turns around and settles
   at the hearth and fire.

© 1997 Jess Morton