It’s morning.
I am sitting by the river on a small gravel bar.
Sunlight brushes across the tops of the cottonwoods.
A light, upstream breeze is blowing in from the ocean.
The air smells sweet and freshly laundered.
In front of me, a thicket of willows
lightly sweep back and forth
in eddies of wind.
The willows grow from an anchor of stones—
a cobbled bed, smoothed
over centuries
by elemental friction.
A shallow sheet of water covers
this abraded bed.
A gentle current channels
its way through small, quiet pools.
It is a refuge.
It’s abundant with creatures visiting
to drink water, bathe, forage, and nest.
One of my favorites is the spotted sandpiper.
During breeding, the white canvas
of its winter breast
becomes dotted with a patchwork
of inky, brown spots
giving it its name.
It has a curious behavior
of bobbing its tail up and down.
I imagine it on a playground
with kids delightfully teetering on its body.
It loves to hop about the rocks
and wade through the water.
It will make visits over to me
if I am still.
Sometimes it will travel along the river.
It flies low over the water
and mixes short, rapid wingbeats
in with small glides.
I lose sight of it sometimes,
but I can hear the clear, simple
high-pitched notes it sings
as it wanders and explores.
I look forward to it returning every year
and spending time here.
I never tire of watching it
and being in the presence of
its peacefulness and elegance.

See more of Bryan’s work here.