Voices on the Wind
by Leslie Clark
A foghorn moans through the ever-swirling coastal mist.
Male sea lions, on hiatus from stud duty elsewhere,
bellow as they jostle for space on a harbor platform.
A few, broken away from the pack, glide through water
with a great flapping of tails, near the dock where we sit.
Today, the aqua water is placid, though nearby signs
relate devastation wrought by a tsunami here
just a few years ago, when this dock and myriads
of boats were drowned and swept out to an angry sea.
Down the road, a perfect sickle-moon of beach
curves gracefully to meet dense forest.
Later, we bump our rented SUV down a road
that weaves through old-growth redwoods.
Roadside ferns flourish in spite of being
eternally dust-browned by passing traffic.
Deer, having thousands of acres to roam,
choose to graze at the very rim of the lane,
staring at passing motorists with their
fathomless dark eyes.
Near the visitors’ center, a young ranger chokes
back a sob as he tells a small group how he
retreated from years of hospice work
to this forest where he witnesses constant
renewal of protected nature. Occasionally
a breeze carries a whiff of smoke
from a human-ignited conflagration
just fifty miles inland.
Alone on a prayerfully silent woodland trail,
we pause to gaze in neck-strained wonder
at one of the tallest ancient trees, its emerald
crown barely visible.
One of thousands of world’s wonders we will never
have the capacity to comprehend.