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They’re on the left slope

Bullman Beach, North Coast, November 2007

A iconic shape of the Straits of Juan de Fuca is the serpentine form of a cormorant. On the road to Neah Bay cormorants augment the shoreline with their all but constant flightless gliding- they aren’t flightless birds but they do look it oftentimes, sitting atop pilings and stacks, wings open and trembling in the wind like a hope that they might someday rise.

I say this and my wife says, They don’t produce the oils like a typical seabird, she says. They’re just drying themselves.

But characteristically I cant get beyond the mythic self-assigned notions, and the birds retains their doomed poetic status in me feeble pea brain.

Although right off 112 it’s an awkward place to reach. The bluff is covered in lush vegetation most of the year, such that it’s difficult to see your footing. But in winter the vine maples and alder are bare and the horsetail recedes and it’s not too difficult to ease down using a culvert sock as a rope-assist of sorts.

I keep going back, not because I want to improve on this image, though that’s certainly possible. The proximity and sharp delineation of the spot have a dropping-off feel to them, the sounds of traffic close like voices at the door of the wardrobe. It’s nice to just sit and watch the utterly silent glyph-shaped birds as they unfold and try to conjure the ether.