by Mark McKain

    I walked into a cloud.
    Down 300 steps to the end
    of the cliff, the lighthouse
    clung like a barnacle.
    In its belly a sign: Danger
    Intense Sound Signal -- diaphone foghorn,
    deep, mournful, two-toned blast.

    The common murre flew
    through my binoculars
    on pointed wings.
    I heard the colony moaning
    as they huddled penguin-like
    on rocks and ledges below.

    On the other side of the point
    before the parking lot
    harbor seals lay far down
    on a small beach
    like inner tubes with fur.

    They had borrowed this moaning language
    like a hand rubbing a balloon,
    words that no human can spell.

    They groaned for milk and sardines
    and blood, announced the birth
    of fog and flippers and gusts of wind
    pulling me over the rail.

    Looking down into wave and rock
    I thought of the murre's single egg,
    oblong, pear-shaped, blue-green like the Pacific
    that when struck
    rolls in a tight circle
    instead of falling off the edge.

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