I saw them on the beach. They were a winsome quartet: slim and elegant, standing in the rushing foam that nuzzled their feet like playful, cream-colored kittens.
They were a clique-ish group, and kept to themselves – shy intruders to a seagull governed shore. They made no noise, keeping their thoughts private – tiny, feminine observations that were kept secure and hidden.
Recurvirostra Americana: The American Avocet. In summer they are black and white, with russet heads and necks. But in winter the colors make a gradual, liquid change until they are completely black and white and ready to migrate across the country to the southern Atlantic Seaboard.
With their tall, model’s legs they are easily identified as members of the stilt family. Grayish-blue and looking alarmingly breakable, they hold compact feathered bodies high above the salty shallows. The feathers are knit into a tight tapestry of pattern and color, although I did see tiny plumes curl like ferns in the light breeze.
Their beaks are curved – hence the Recurvirostra – and have the width of a single, shapely pen-stroke. Their eyes are black and secretive, holding memories of silent scrutinies of maritime lights and horizons. Thoughts of sparkling fishes, of scents of blue and green and salt reside inside their shadows.
Their diminutive prints traveled up and down the shore connecting and creating salty runes and symbols. But soon there was nothing left of them, no thought, no testimonial, except for the scattered crosses pressed into the wet sand that shimmered with quartz and the bending, endless sea.