O’NEILL AND THE SEA
The greatest metaphor of them all
In the end stands only for the rise and fall
Of itself. The tides, boats and sailors,
Even the seagulls, symbolize the great substitution
Of one reality for another
Of gray skies for bad weather
Or trouble, which it is.
The sea rolls over itself
A compass in a gale that can never fail,
As timeless as a ship in the distance
That doesn’t move
Then is gone in a moment,
In the sweep of a gull’s wing overhead
As the sea rolls back into place.
A ring-billed gull stands still as a statue out on the jetty
As fishermen lash bait into the surf
And the spray seems to answer them
Thrown against the rocks.
The tide withdraws and all are there,
The sandpipers sweeping a vast apron of sand,
The couples and families and loners
watching them in the twilight.