Not far from here is an island where Shearwaters (also known as Mutton Birds) breed in hollows in the ground. Each year they fly here from the Aleutian Islands near Alaska. They arrive around the spring equinox to breed and raise their chicks then they fly back to the Aleutians around the autumn equinox. Every year they return to the same nest and every year they return to their life long partner. Each year many die in the south westerly gales before they make back to their nests. This year the gales have been much worse than usual.
Today, after yesterday’s gales,
hundreds of Shearwaters
lay dead upon the shore.
Far more than I have ever seen before.
The wind caught their wings and set them fluttering
but still their bodies lay
trapped beneath the drifting sands.
Will there be enough left, I wondered,
to breed and fly
as neurons in the group mind –
that vast flock which measures the length of the Pacific
from north to south and back again
each and every year.
Far out to see the storm clouds gathered –
another gale brewing.
The sea snarled as it ate away at the eroded dunes.
Even last week the beach was wider.
In my mind the birds took flight.
They became metaphoric –
the refugees, the damaged and the homeless –
All those who wander ceaselessly
and never find a home.