'The Watcher', by Ryan Van Winkle

American monument at Oa.jpg

I am on a cliff

watching the sea roll into the rocks, the shore,

churning white foam and all that cold black below.

I could be any where water meets land.


But I am here,

watching silhouettes and shadows roil

towards sharp rocks. If I kicked a stone,

it would fall, it would sink, disappear. Bodies

face down in the sand. Night, day, then night


over & over again I hold the high ground,

no longer count the bodies piling up stiff,

a horizontal terracotta army. The dangers

of water and war,


rock by rock, build a sad, stoic cairn. Limbs crack

at inhuman angles. Clothes tear, exposing

a chest too cold to touch and smooth

as a varnished hull. Another doll-like body

of a boy, carried to a new land.


Like a cliff, I remain, unmoved

two thousand years old and water

water everywhere. Green water, brakish water,

stone water, starlit water, the north star guiding

some souls home, some souls on course


going away. I want to come down.

Attend to the meaty things broken

on the beach, stacked up. I want to bake

scones all night and use up all the flour.

From this cliff


I could kiss every shore

touched by loss. When the moon is high,

when new rocks get kicked hard, when

it is night again and those heavy terrors

begin to drop.