Two mornings now the cactus wren has woken me, but I'm not complaining because it's Mexican. I'm in Mexico. It's hard to believe that the creature making such a ruckus is a bird, and I haven't actually seen it but imagine it to be chunky and grossly sociable. There's a hardscrabble beauty to everything around here in Baja. Yesterday, I took a walk alone toward the ocean, my footsteps the only sound on the sandy path, and the crash of surf only anticipated. An enormous ridge of sand rises at the end of the path, and you have to wind around a long narrow tide pool, edged with grasses and cacti before you climb up and over the ridge to the deserted beach below, the roar (waves crashing) meeting you. I hadn't yet gotten there, gotten to the point where the sound meets you, when I saw in the distance a pack of dogs, maybe five, come up over the far ridge on the other side of the pool. At first I fancied coyotes, then contemplated wolves and settled on dogs, their ears dark v's, spaces between them and wondered where they were going and whether they were wild and what would I do (dumb, non-dog loving American) if attacked and would anyone hear me if the roar of the Pacific was not yet discernible from bird calls much less screams. The dogs were so in the distance, but I could have sworn that they saw me, that they scattered over the dune, scattered toward me, so I stopped and turned around and walked back, quickly, trying not to look back over my shoulder. Over my head, high up in the sky and then past my line of vision flew a long streak of a bird, black-edged and elegant and alone.
A great frigate, the Bird Photographer told me later.
Frigatebirds can stay up in the air for two months without ever touching the ground.
I'm not sure what I want to say about this, how my mind conjures both threat and wonder but it does and it does again no matter the place.
RIP W.S. Merwin
They say the sun will come back
my one love
but we know how the minutes
fly out into
the dark trees
like the great 'ohias and the honey creepers
and we know how the weeks
walk into the
shadows at midday
at the thought of the months I reach for your
it is not something
one is supposed
we watch the red birds in the morning
we hope for the quiet
the year turns into air
but we are together in the whole night
with the sun still going away
and the year
photo by Carl Jackson@cbjfoto