1 Down Here After Being Kept Away Three Weeks by Sickness How much I missed this place. While I’ve been gone The season has turned, the winter birds are here, The sand is firm, clean, smooth, and the air clear With a wave flashing cold in the low sun Under the slow wingbeats of a pelican That three pilfering gulls keep swinging near, Whimbrels and godwits and plovers and killdeer Work the sleek shallows, I begin to run: Easy, now. But I swear the beach gives back My footthuds like the tightly stretched buckskin It looks like here, the blazing water track Of the sun’s running beside me — coming in The old ocean commotion and the dark mass Of a jogging girl’s hair jouncing as we pass. 5