Refuge

The wind catches, lifts, pulls over the low palm scrub and sings out, refreshed, over the open water. Up from the marsh comes the smell of the land—brackish water, drying mud, sunlight, snails, fish, mangroves. The scent is heavy in the humid air, like a mantle.

The wind flows past moorhens, egrets, red-winged blackbirds; past horse shoe crabs, black vultures, hawks; past mullet and manatees: past life.

The level of the estuary changes with the tides; the marshes fill and shallow. Whitman replaces Emerson in my brain: “There was never any more inception than there is now.” This is it, this is all, this is everything: there isn’t any more, and there won’t be.

Roseate spoonbills, audaciously, irrationally pink, but small, distant—twined into their feeding flock out closer to the horizon. Vultures, solid, heavy, anything but ephemeral: a Gothic rendering of the glory of God, the wide black arch of their wings catching rising currents of warm air as they twist into the sky. Osprey calling to each other as they hunt, one high, spare note, given, answered, repeated. The mystery is always free and moving in the sky.

Only sometimes do I see it, only sometimes do I know: there isn’t any more, but what has been given is more than enough.

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