The Old Man of the Beach

An old man’s face stares at me through rock
His jaw jutting just above the line of the sand
Like he had been buried by overeager grandkids
Who left him there to fossilize

His crown and brow grow everlasting green
And the pores of his weatherbeaten cheeks and jowls
Are pockmarked and yellowed like my footprints
On the surface of the beach below

The roar of surf sings hymns to him
And drapes a green and white scarf around his neck
The sun turns around him, tanning both sides
Stars kiss his hollowed eyes goodnight

We entered the cove via a church-like arch
Hewed from stone by the persistence of the ocean
Perhaps he came long ago and was trapped by the tide
That creeps up upon us too

Many worship the congregation of land and sea
Occupying their hallowed chambers
Then returning to other sanctuaries
But the old man remains, and sees them all
He watches the fleeting white seabirds and multi-coloured backpackers
He watches wind and water and grit and tree
Clinging to each other as they fight for the upper hand
This shore is his cathedral
And his resting place
We can envy his fortitude
Before returning to our gentler beds

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