Shorebirds in October

Oct 16, 2020

Today’s poem is “Shorebirds in October” by Richard Foerster. He’s the author of eight books of poetry, most recently Boy on a Doorstep: New and Selected Poems, which spans 40 years of his work. Richard has worked as a lexicographer, educational writer, typesetter, teacher, and editor of the literary magazines Chelsea and Chautauqua Literary Journal. Since 1986, he has lived on the coast in southern Maine.

He writes, “I wrote ‘Shorebirds in October’ soon after I moved to York Beach from Westchester County, NY, in 1986. The owners of the Cutty Sark Motel, which sits at the north end of Long Sands Beach, had the Irish Setter which the sonnet describes. I was delighted one day to watch it exuberantly pursue a flock of sandpipers up and down the beach. Its joy was contagious.”

Shorebirds in October
By Richard Foerster

The waves retreat, leaving a steam-rolled stretch
down Long Sands Beach, where a sea-soaked Irish setter
is chasing a flock of sandpipers. The dog thinks Go fetch
and gallops the thin sheen, getting wetter and wetter.

Like a brassy god, nymph-struck, he reaches his prize
as they veer off then bank, in Blue Angel formation,
back and forth. Though escape would be easy, they tantalize
the ungainly, indefatigable dog.

What made these lithe Ariels pause in their long migration
to play, just days ahead of the rattling cogs
of the season bearing down the coast like a tank?

Someone whistles, and the dog trots off, realizing
the familiar urgencies of home, giving thanks
perhaps for a glimpsed grace, this brief visitation.

Poem copyright ©2019 by Richard Foerster. Reprinted from Boy on a Doorstep: New and Selected Poems (Tiger Bark Press, 2019) by permission of Richard Foerster.