The Silent Shore
A wave throws me gasping out of a sleeping ocean.
I stumble onto a silent shore, half-drowned but lucid.
A sun burns amber against a blackened starlit sky.
I cough out the last remnants of liquid slumber.
Doubled over, I discover a smooth stone in the sand.
-HONOR YOUR STRENGTH- I read on one side.
On the other I find symbols I cannot understand.
I put the rock down, feel washed in apprehension.
I pick it up; the stone feels appropriate in my palm.
I pocket the relic and wander across quiet dunes.
As I travel I stare at the points of light above me.
Blue, white, orange, red: many stars but none flicker.
I inhale sharply, tasting the salt-tinged atmosphere.
I listen for the sound of waves and hear no crashing.
I slap my face and feel the pain, but do not wake up.
A flash: the staunch white pelican catches me off guard.
He stares at me from his perch on a rotting wooden fence.
-COME HERE A STRANGER, LEAVE HERE A FRIEND.-
I hear the voice behind my ears, and shudder at the noise.
-WALK FORWARD NOW AND DISCOVER THIS LAND.-
I fear the manifest destiny lurking in these unspoken words.
I am no conquistador, no voyager, no claimer of territory.
-THE FIRST TO PASS THE FIRST TEST- I hear again.
“There were others?” I ask the unwavering white pelican.
He squawks and unfolds his wings, then looks to his left.
I follow the line of the cryptic bird’s gaze to a pile of bones.
A human skull rolls to a rest at the foot of the mound.
A diamond refracts the eerie sunlight from one socket.
-THE OTHERS- the voice without a voice calmly states.
I feel a hand on my shoulder, and start as
the Venetian blinds parcel the sunlight
and I release my death grip
and notice the blood under my fingernails.