At dawn there are the shorebirds
after silent matins—
a colony of common gulls,
two whimbrels and a plover—
genuflecting above the shining sand
while they seek their portions.

The breeze that moved so gently
over deep with morning’s haste
gusts up again to chase the birds
and raise the drowsy heads of sea oats
bending to the dunes and rouse
them into rhythmic davening.

At height of sun and breaking tide
the boat-tailed grackle all alone
has found assurance bold enough
to trawl the rippled shallows of the strand
and harrow their more plenteous supply
than any need he seeks to satisfy.

The spirited wind at last subsides
to allow the angling tide to roll
the foamy edges of the ocean back
then suddenly picks up again
to lift a string of pelicans and ferry them
along the secret way of glimmering fish.

All the while the understated moon
waits for hibiscus cast
of journeying sun to nestle
behind the shadow of scrub pines
before it puts its own reflection down
on the stiller surface of the sound.

These are the fixed hours on the outer banks
a single page within the endless book of days
creation follows to render praise
and recognize the power that abides.

And this is mystery akin to grace
how water and wind and bird together
all converge in this one place
where with this liturgy of light
I come to see
what holds them all keeps me.

— first appeared in Talking River Review