Seaside

On dreary mornings or sunlit days,
I've watched them on the strand.
No one visits the beach alone.
No one sits in the sand

Without a paper or book to read,
There where the breakers moan,
Or watches the line the horizon makes...
Not if he's there alone.

It's seasonal visitors mostly,
Living far from the ocean reach,
For those who dwell by the sea year-round
Never go down to the beach.

With a buddy to talk about tennis,
Or a spouse, the evening meal,
Or children collecting shells to watch,
You may sit where the seagulls wheel.

But no one alone watches seagulls,
Though his heart when he comes is glad,
For their shrills and shrieks tell him quickly enough
The ocean has driven them mad.

A lone, plodding jogger is one thing,
Head down by the edge of the bay.
He watches each step with his eyes to the ground
And seldom looks up at the sea.

Beachcombers there with their gadgets
May spend an hour or more;
Their minds are on coins and trinkets,
Their souls safely ashore.

But a homeless fellow I saw once,
With his tattered pack by his knee,
Sat alone with a haunted, hollow stare,
His bearded face to the sea.

I gave him a brave salute as I passed,
But he only looked annoyed
And waved me away with a jerk of his head
And continued to stare at the void.

He was there in the cold, a foggy morn,
When the sea was black. And then
He was still there at noon in a pelting rain.
I never saw him again.

But the worst for me, when I look to the sea,
Where the sky meets the ocean at dawn,
Are the tiny boats that appear like hopes,
And you look again, and they're gone.