Split-tail swallows, near the tide line, dart below the old planks. The water under the pier is dark green and flows like a river current. Sunlight, reflected up from the waves, dances overhead on the dry boards. The pier is vast, stretching into the bay on elephant legs made of Douglas fir -- a battalion, at least. Now in another town I'm writing a letter to the shadowy water down there:
Thank you for times when a person needed to be alone with waves washing up and back and because we had some chats I found constructive. You said, "Shadows are a part of the day. Learn to live sometimes as if standing under a pier." I'm glad also for the dry hot sand, full of wood fragments farther up the beach where pigions try to walk and where my paper cup would turn over in the breeze and cough. And the quiet aloneness of the buoys out there drenched in sunlight. Oh, certainly I'll be coming back. . . .
They're working on the pier, replacing most of the old wood. A truck with a crane on it is slowly hoisting huge timbers with a kind of elephant patience. Under the pier it will look much the same -- one special feature being, of course, the swallows and how they change speed in mid-flight with amazing suddenness. They loop upward into the radiant air. They swoop downward into the flickering ligh t and shadows.