Dressed in green and arriving by creek
instead of the path, I startle the dogs.
They circle me to protect a man
I assume is a drifter, the bearded one
who built a fire, slept on the beach
on Christmas Eve.
He calls them in, offers me coffee
from a stainless cup, looks to the bluff
and thanks me for the light-strung tree.
We talk a bit, throw sticks to the dogs
until taken by a rise of sea-bound gulls,
flashes of white on a winter front,
we lapse into silence
to let the season pass between us.
I climb home, look over my shoulder,
see only the great heron
closer to me than he’s ever been.
by Patricia Wallace Jones
Editor’s Note: The close of this poem carries the entire thing.