Sitting (Star Island, Isle of Shoals)

They step out on their doorsteps - plump and matronly, starched and white-aproned, eyes glazed with attention - and they complain, one to another, about the disturbance: a stranger wandering through the nesting area. One hysterical momma beats her wings into the air, then slashes left and right across the gusts as someone might brandish a knife to frighten off the intruder too near her thatched lap and its three olive-flecked eggs. I do not pull back. I choose a tiny patch of sun-burnt grass, spread a cloth, and sit. After a few anxious moments she too sits. And all the mothers retreat through the dark portals of choke cherry and myrtle or settle into their rock-wedged nurseries, sidling left and right, and then they sit as well.

Bluets and stellaria, blue flag iris crisp and dainty as geisha. Silverweed and meadow sweet and searoses, pink or white, starring the bushes' great green aisles. The gossipy chuckling of the sitting gulls, the cheeky trills of redwing and warbler. And the wind - one moment, an over-anxious matron, rearranging the clouds as if they were pillows on a settee. Now, whispery and cool, a gull, a girl, leaving small secrets in the lemon grass and the timothy. The black-backed gulls soar, scoring fine lines across the sky - a map, perhaps, larus iconography, or the plans of some architecture of light.

There are people working in those stone cottages across the hill, but I cannot see or hear them. Eventually I will be back among them, and I well know there are tasks waiting for hands to attend them. But for now, I am sitting, as this light-flared downy June morning is sitting lightly on this flinty bit of the earth. Something, something new is coming, drawing close. And it is up to us to sit still every once in a while long enough, mindful enough to notice.

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