Paul Kiernan lives on the southwest coast of Florida. He is a retired engineer.
She breathes the gulf wind at first light
When the shrimp boats make their early passage out
Motoring through shadows
The clouds cast on the waters.
Who hasn’t seen her there guiding schools
Of redfish along the shores,
Then up into the passes where she gluts
The bays and backwaters at high tide;
Or seen her on still mornings when the crabber rows his skiff
Working his pot line, snipping claws of stone crabs on his way;
Or in the dark mangroves
Where the herons stalk the shallow pools at dusk.
Her instruments are subtle as strings
Like saw palmettos in the building on-shore breeze,
The downpours that deluge the late afternoons;
And some that make discordant passages:
Like the hawk’s screech from the slash pines.
Her islands are full of sounds and airs
Indelible to those who listen.
For the heart who has encountered her
As if it were a witness at creation
There is longing here and regret
An unfulfilled embrace under the moons
Rising above the cypress swamps
Immutable and full of peace,
The forever yearning beside the currents
That pass unhurriedly off the Yucatan, eastward,
Through Ten Thousand Islands and the Keys.