Black Turnstones, the New Year and Peace

When you come to the coast in the new year,
we’ll walk to the cliffs then descend to the shore.
And when I point out the Black Turnstones
picking their way along the wave-washed rocks,
searching for acorn barnacles and corded limpets,
won’t we cheer to see their humble sandpiper bodies
insinuating themselves, monk-like, into
the jagged cloisters of their granite abbeys?

Wait ‘til they take flight, I’ll say, and we’ll wait
and they’ll lift in quick chorus, and we’ll trace,
in the flair of their wings,
the whirring utterance of glory,
the declaration of Divinity,
patterned against the green-slate sea.

Won’t we talk, then, of their untaught faith
of finding, daily, what is needed for strength?
Won’t we note their belief in original goodness,
their simple trust in the grace of littoral space?

And we’ll pause too, won’t we? at some twinkling tide pool,
some gentle rivulet running over basalt,
some gleaming seastar,
some reflective stillness on sun-glazed sandstone,
some intrepid sea palm swaying in the psalm of heavy surf,
wise to connection, open to communion, open to conversion,
the ora et labora of this botanical beach.

And won’t we rise to what feels like a fanning
of our own courage in the glide and dive
of a double-crested cormorant?

Won’t we be delivered?
Won’t our hearts grow deliciously wild?

It could happen on some new year morning
walking the intertidal span from the Ogden Breakwater
to Clover Point, the Black Turnstones lifting and landing
on the foreshore, and you, me,
brimming with peace.

From Grow Mercy to you, here’s to a beautiful New Year!


  1. Experienced emotional buoyancy of whirring wings over jagged cloisters of granite abbeys. Thanks for taking me along.

  2. I can’t say I’ve ever felt deliciously wild after watching the variety of birds – always intrigued by them and the pleasure they bring to the landscape. I do enjoy your poetic twist to their existence.

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