Cold frothy sinks into my new laces and aqua trim. I look away from the camera lens in time to see the wave’s sly recess back into the ocean, squish my toes in soppy socks. Turn back around to the row of sharpened pencil beaks sunning themselves on weathered wood, preoccupied with each other.

Frame the feathers. Open the shutter.

Sometimes it’s worth soaking in uncomfortable to capture contentment and peace.

I squat to see from another angle and motherhood rises in my throat. These birds, they often rest on one leg but this one, it’s different. That second knobby toothpick, it’s bent and balanced at an angle, trembling.

Pain blends in with the crowd. It takes time to notice it. Stop and look close. Love will tell you what to do.

I want to scoop that bird and hold it in my palm. But I know my good intentions will disrupt the flock.  Camera dangles over my shoulder, keeping rhythm on my hip. I continue walking along the shore leaving imprints in the sand. Imprints to guide me back home if I don’t wait too long to turn around.

Sometimes compassion notices the pain and love keeps walking in trust.

I sit on pink and grey bricks to tie laces, walk down the quiet road lined maple and pine. Yellow and orange, they flutter above my bangs like crowds rushing to get out of a burning building.  I stop to seize the glory haling golden in the ditch when I notice a towering presence standing in fingered light across the road.

He wears faded overalls and a ball cap. One hand rests on a knobby stick, while the other holds a long silver claw. He’s leaning at an angle, balancing on one side while tossing pinecones from the claw into a rusty wheelbarrow.

I want to help him but I’m invisible. And he is capable.

We all walk with a bit of limp, balancing the slanted world of what falls on the floor and creates a mess.

Stop and look close. He’s tilting the world so you can see straight. Love will tell you what to do.

Writing in community with Ann, Jennifer, Duane, Emily, and WLWW.