by Scott Owens
Three stories up on a rail at the south end
of Hatteras, I watch ferries come and go
taking their cargo of vacationers, one-day
diners, to more remote Ocracoke,
twenty miles of beach, sand, mosquitoes,
building up to a hotel-studded Silver Lake,
artificial harbor said to be Edward Teach’s
final hideaway before hanging, seabirds
and high tiders the only permanent residents.
On the other side, the ocean seems
to flow north, Gulf stream current
bringing enough warm water in which to swim,
double sandbar making it clearer
than I’ve ever seen this far north.
Sport fishermen cruise up and down
this coastline all day, hauling in
cobia, mackerel, drum. At night
I see their lights, singular in a sea
of darkness, sometimes hear voices
pitched just right to pierce
the constant roll of surf.
None of us leave much of a mark
on islands known to be temporary
themselves, migrating west,
shaped and reshaped by blue-green
waters of the Atlantic, patrolled
by timeless squads of gull
and tern, grackle and skimmer.
Footprints are washed or blown away
by nightfall, words drowned in wind
and waves, everything else
consumed by time or sea.