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In memory, I return to the first morning of my arrival at East Gloucester, Massachusetts, stretch into the bleached lawn chair next to the ocean, and open my citified world to nature’s expansive healing. Desperate is my need for watering.

October’s brilliance caps hesitant waves with opulence that lap against the base of the monolithic Brace Rock; it resembles a dusky pachyderm snoozing in the morning heat, its humps whitened by decades of excrement. Against luminous skies, crowds of herring gulls honk into fly-space, while others pump their wings, catch columns of wind, gliding in somersaults and pinwheels. Like cobra helicopters, twin ravens pan the boulder-strewn shore until they vanish.

I breathe deeply in my chair, then notice surf-bubbles skittering among handfuls of sandpipers, toeing the grainy sand like princesses. Upon stringy brackish seaweed, mosquitoes crowd like irritable shoppers in check-out lines.

Nearby, splashy quilts of wild grasses, golden rod, and sumac enliven miles of bronzed granite rocks along the coast. A solitary honeybee suns upon the breast of a goldenrod spear. A rare Monarch butterfly collapses its circus wings and alights on the fringed tip of purple loose strife.

A cobalt sky smiles upon this riotous foreplay. Time hangs suspended upon boney and gossamer wings. Within this jeweled kaleidoscope, an unseen power reveals her Soul and invites surrender.

Again, it has been done. I’m washed, clean.

Clouds lower from steel sky and spit rains upon the beach.

Waves tease broken clam shells, seaweed, Coke bottle, a lobster pot

Herring gulls hide among the boulders.

A Gloucester crone pokes along the sand.

A weathered oar steadies her step.

Cropped hair sets off her burnished neck.

Leather belt cinches layers of sweaters, flapping trousers.

A walking Giacometti sculpture.

She pauses, turns toward the horizon, traces a circle on wet sands.

Fills it with squiggles: her morning greeting to the Goddess.

Her ritual complete, the crone slopes ahead.

Listens for the next whisper.

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