Sunday, February 20, 2011

How do the waves know when to stop?

How do they know where to deposit the day's tidal treasure
of tumbled skeins of seaweed
and bright green mangrove seeds,
of precious empty shells
and discarded backs of crabs...
and leaving them at the appointed place,
retreat again,
the ebbing tide.

Early one morning I walked along the high tidal line
of Whangamata beach
and amongst the drying seaweed,
found three dead
little blue penguins.

Like the baby Maui of old,
had wrapped them in seaweed
and delivered them to the sandy shore
this old woman
could silently grieve their dying

and feel a sadness
that unlike tiny Maui,
I could not hang them
over the warmth of a smoky whare fire
and bring them back to life.

Though I wondered,
the sea could not tell  me
what catastrophe had caused their deaths.
The sea is like that.
Full of mystery.

Posted by Picasa


  1. I have often wondered the same does the sea know its limits?

    Those poor wee penguins...

  2. So beautiful, Joan, and so haunting as well. Questions to ask without answers with the beauty and the force of the sea.

    I am tearing up a bit, as I love penguins. They fascinate me and I wonder what happened to bring them to shore thusly - just the natural cycle of life, or something more? Perhaps only the sea can say.

    Your post above, with its solitary souls, is beautiful. I love the the reflections. Thank you for bringing the warmth this way.

  3. Oh, I know so well the sadness of finding little blue penguins dead on the beach. I wrote about one such incident in Dancing with the Seasons. They are very vulnerable to attacks by dogs, and dogs have to be on leads at the beach I go to.

  4. beautiful writing
    beautiful thoughts
    I would be right there with you
    grieving for these little lost ones