Now and Then
Above the sea and the wide sand gulls fly calling
or walk far out by the ripples’ edge, where children
paddle and shout. The waves rustle. Yet silence
encloses all in crystal. This is an empty
world, where bird and child exist like water
and today is yesterday and is tomorrow.
Unaware, at least, as birds of the past or morrow,
at work alone on a sand-castle, or calling
another to see some trove dredged from the water,
unaware as waves almost, the sanded children
dot like sea-birds, sea-shells, the beach, that empty
accepts their cries into its crystal silence.
You, though, reader, must watch outside the silence
with me, since after-knowledge sets tomorrow
to mirror yesterday—images which empty
the moment’s brimming being. Not us they’re calling
but others within the crystal, child to children
as gull to gull across the sand and water.
Look, on the sand a small way from the water
a child is building, wrapped in private silence,
small crystal world within the world of children,
a castle that waves (we know) before tomorrow
will smooth back into beach-sand; as shrill calling
of child or bird leaves the next moment empty.
Look on the walls, lofty and from no empty
moat upmounting, but straight from shining water
bravely bridged—flagged battlements recalling
story and dream… A sadness in your silence
recalls me to mounded sand. A windy morrow
shakes the crystal bubble about the children.
Light slopes, lengthens the shadows of the children
parting, gathering, trailing across the empty
sand, in evening’s awareness of tomorrow.
Brief wind ruckles gulls’ feathers, wrinkles water,
drops, still. Break from above into this silence
out of the outer world loud voices calling.
Authority breaks, calling, the world of children.
Gone the seagulls, silence. The beach is empty,
and water, advancing, renews it for tomorrow.