The Sea Ranch, Oct. 26, 2021
I’ve never held so many stars, but
the October storm washes them ashore,
bright points of light wrapped in knotted
ropes of yellowed kelp and dulled mussels.
Wave after wave bounces them to the sand,
and, as the water recedes, I run to their rescue,
scoop up as many as I can, return dozens
to normally placid tidepools.
But the ocean is having none of it,
churned and frothed as it is, crashing
into the crevices and pools with the force
of an angry god. I continue my vain efforts
to restore the sea stars to their rightful home.
Perhaps they—like the bent-spined purple
urchins and oval gumboot chitons I send
into the surge—are already lost.
I cannot tell.
For an hour I collect their carroty
five-pointed bodies from the debris,
cradle the rust, the crimson, the cranberry,
one the color of a mottled lizard,
ferry them to the corner of the cove
where tide kisses land. I can do so little—
the proverbial drop of water in a vast sea—
but I fetch and toss the little invertebrates
with great hope, small beings I can try
to save in a lifetime of watching death win
again and again.