Sunset on Jockey's Ridge
We track a long march up the ridge of the dunes,
white sand burnished Martian red this evening,
or like the Sahara, oasis-less, no water,
we might imagine. Over the crest the sun
has already ignited the coastal sky
as we ascend from shadows to thinning light.
We reach the crest, greeted by a light
wind. Hang gliders catch updrafts from the dunes.
Kites flutter, soar and dive, strung across the sky.
Kids play tag, kick up sand. This carnival evening
prepares for an incandescent moment: the sun
settling into the sound, drama in air and water.
To the west, the Pimlico's glistening water,
to the east, Atlantic surf, and Hatteras Light
with clockwork flashes, competing with the sun,
and soon to win. They say that these dunes
shift with prevailing winds, evening
out, gathering up, very subtly. Now the sky
skims with clouds, wind buffets up. The sky
dots itself with birds, terns skimming the water
for their last meal of the evening.
We think we feel a shift of sand, a light
powder leaps up to sting the skin, the dunes
unroll both ways, down to beach homes, red sun
setting them on quiet fire. The sun
bloats lower, seems to melt the colors of sky
into the sound. Behind us a ranger crests the dunes
in a buggy. He sips from a bottle of water
and starts his speech about this famous ridge. His flashlight
glares on the paper from which he reads. Evening
creeps on all sides like a stalking animal. Evening
moves the wind to the north, chills us suddenly. The sun
has poked into the sound, only a slice of light
left to illuminate the violet-red sky.
The whole pageant is repeated on the water,
and as the ranger reads on, we watch from the dunes.
The sun is finished, its remnant heat lifts off the dunes
that now catch the cool of evening. Blue-black water
keeps the light till morning. Stars begin to play the sky.
Bruce W. Niedt is a beneficent bureaucrat from southern NJ. His poetry has appeared in Writers' Journal, Mad Poets Review, The Fairfield Review, Up and Under: the QND Review, U.S. 1 Worksheets, and a host of others. He won first prize in the ByLine Magazine 2003 Short Fiction and Poetry Contest, and was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
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