By the Shore Their Long Vigil

Among the towers she sat, her feet resting on her thighs, and listened to the crying of the gulls.

“Tell me, O saints–“

Hue & cry & anger.

“–O Hermits–“

The gulls were silent, listening. Away came the rush of the sea.

“Tell me–“

And she waited, her voice echoing among the pillars, unfinished. Three gulls landed and walked toward her, unafraid but wary. She took it as a sign & threw her hands in the air “Tell me, O Hermits, what price salvation!”

The gulls took to the sky grudgingly, casting reproachful glances at her as they leave. When they were gone — when the sound of their flight echoed no more among the boulders — came a thin and querulous voice from the cold and uneven tops, saying, “Be quiet and listen.” It was an old man’s voice, rusty from idleness.

“I attend, O sages,” she said.

In the silence there was the mourning of the gulls & the wind among the rocks. Far away there was the rush of the sea.