Looking for distinctive stones, I found the dead otter
rotting by the tideline, and carried all day the scent of this savage
valediction. That headlong high sound the oystercatcher makes
came echoing through the rocky cove
where a cormorant was feeding and submarining in the bay
and a heron rose off a boulder where he'd been invisible,
drifted a little, stood again -- a hieroglyph
or just longevity reflecting on itself
between the sky clouding over and the lightly ruffled water.
This was the morning after your dream of dying, of being held
and told it didn't matter. A butterfly went jinking over
the wave-silky stones, and where I turned
to go up the road again, a couple in a blue camper sat
smoking their cigarettes over their breakfast coffee (blue
scent of smoke, the thick dark smell of fresh coffee)
and talking in quiet voices, first one then the other answering,
their radio telling the daily news behind them. It was warm.
All seemed at peace. I could feel the sun coming off the water.
from Relations: New and Selected Poems, 1998
Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minn.