The family picnic breaks the way most do
deciding what to bring or gather and drop
in waste bins, things skipping away too fast to stop
or recover, plaid tablecloth clutched like an heirloom
flapping as though to launch for open sea.
The bi-black sheltie pulls leash taut
toward the ledge-side path where seagulls stalk
eyeing refuse. Our granddaughter asks to stay
a while, her mother’s silence implying to agree.
Brown pelicans swing around the barbican
Stick lighthouse ruddied gold, wavering line
demarked by shifts in their unbalanced V.
All of us know the career choice essay waits
alongside unpaid bills, the wash not dried,
porch lounge of cats that must be brought inside.
The sunset plays a filtered glow through concrete
fence grate along the clifftop like the last
flare of fireplace embers backlighting calves
and tee-shirts, groups of hobbyists knelt to solve
the tricky sets on consoles, poised to cast
remote-control gliders to surf the air.
The planes dip on release then stabilize,
climb improbably when steered beyond the signs
that ward the precipice, then swing in pairs
and solos wider looping voyages
before returning for retrieval and
the next set of runs. Passing pelicans
maintain the set of their appendages
unperturbed, necks furling upstretched bills harpooned
in formation toward oblivious schools of mullet.
The sea absorbs the sun abruptly. Summits
dim like a switched off lava lamp, assume
silhouette stillness. A final flock begins
to pass then veers to darkness bearing crags
beyond the surf line where they settle hag
feet to their gripping place. It’s said they end
their lives patrolling ledges, starved beside
thrashed wave caps, made blind through repeated dives
for prey that split the sea’s breast open eyed.
I picture the stir of alerted clutches nearby
their lunge to arriving cocks and hens, chick-peck
frenzy wielding indiscriminate stabs
that take in wind, plume, pouch, with pre-chewed crab
and fish. Gull cries scatter up the rocks
to us like refugees from Acheron.
The lighthouse woke without our noticing
its irregular handprint feeling along
the fogbank cast off vanishing buoys and seawall.
My wife suggests we all get up and moving.
The gliders gleam above dim walkways, wing lights
green, blue, vermillion plunging through a night
breeze fretting palm fronds like cups of trembling.
Poem by David W. Parsley
David W. Parsley grew up in a household where literature was prized as an “incalculable luxury” meant to be shared. Among his fondest memories are evenings where his father would read aloud to the family from collections of stories and poems. Those early years were split between Ohio and Utah. Mr. Parsley now spends most of his time working in Southern California on interplanetary spacecraft at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He has found a way to keep the reading and composition of poetry an important part of his life over the years. His work has garnered prizes from The Academy of American Poets and Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts, and has appeared in Poetry Panorama, Autumn Sky Poetry, Rattle, and Prize Poems of The National Federation of State Poetry Societies. https://www.poetrymagnumopus.com/forums/topic/3083-david-w-parsley-poems/