Last Harvest

I carried the pail down the dirt road
thinking – what if I fall?
Here the path led through the tall grass
to the cliff edge and the climb down started..

Once over the lip the peopled world vanished.
Below are the rocks and the mussels
in inexhaustible beds under the waving weeds.
“That’s the best – always take them from under water”
local advice followed for years.

Only this time I was unsure
how far down, how far out, how slippery,
how to keep balance with shaky legs.
Untrustworthy eyesight, betraying me
after such carefree clambering, such pleasure
in the stretching and clutching at the rock face,
in the solitude.

The pail fills rapidly, a bittersweet sight,
next time needing a spry grandchild for safety,
losing the pleasure of stillness, lapping water,
the lobster boats circling nearby.

The seagulls raucous cry surrounds me,
too old – too old – old –
delights turned to threats.

Lari Smith