- THE SENTINEL -
Shaped from stone by godly hands
 And filled with ancient seas,
A tiny cove that time forgot
 Sleeps in the ocean breeze.

A single pylon driven deep
 Into the bed of rock
Survives the decomposing fate
 Bestowed upon the dock.

High atop his weathered throne
 Beyond the briny reach,
A pelican keeps careful watch
 Along his strand of beach.

He sits in contemplative thought
 In daybreak's golden haze
Until the sun burns through the mist
 And sets the sea ablaze.

High overhead in circled swarm,
 The seagulls rule the skies,
Disrupting any hope of peace
 With echoes of their cries.

They taunt the pelican each day
 And curse his watchful eye;
They ridicule his sagging bill
 Without a reason why.

They scorn the curve within his neck
 And mock his gait with glee;
The pelican just turns away
 And gazes out to sea.

One careless day a haughty gull,
 While swooping to deride,
Misjudges with a glancing blow
 Against the pylon's side.

Cruel barnacles, like rusty nails,
 Slice deep into his flesh,
Depriving wings of precious flight
 And oozing life afresh.

Spreading fast, a crimson stain
 Lures death from far beneath;
No mercy comes with dorsal fin
 Or rows of slashing teeth.

In knowing precious time is short
 The gull makes his retreat,
Propelled by terror in his heart,
 Sustained by thrashing feet.

Beyond the cove, salvation waits
 Where breakers rush to shore;
A somber bell tolls loud and clear
 Above the ocean's roar.

With ebbing strength, the fleeing bird
 Puts stinging wounds aside
To reach out for that blessed sound
 And to his fate abide.

It is a buoy which beckons trueŚ
 A guidepost for the lost;
Its chain secured to shipwrecked souls
 Whose deeds reflect the cost.

By force of will, he dares ascend
 Beneath the pointed spire,
Expecting help from whom he flew
 To bring what he'd require.

But members of his former flock
 Have chosen to betray;
They circle high above his head
 And look the other way.

The pelican, from distant shore,
 Has watched the tale unfold;
He saw the gull escape the sea
 And tremble in the cold.

The great white shadow lurking near
 From him is not concealed,
Nor is the glimmer of the blood,
 From gashes not yet healed.

No longer can his purpose wait
 To heal the seagull's plight;
He stretches forth enormous wings
 And lifts himself in flight.

Set free from boundaries of the earth
 He soars with awesome grace,
Transcending all expected laws
 Which govern time and space.

Now he plunges from the heights
 In streaks of brown and gray,
Keen vision focused with intent
 Upon a fishy prey.

He hits the water near the shark,
 His snakelike neck unfurls;
Four dozen minnows disappear
 Amid the foamy swirls.

Once safely in the air again
 Away from vengeful jaws,
The pelican heads for the buoy
 To seal his noble cause.

Unseen by the unconscious gull,
 The pelican arrives
And pours life from his sagging bill,
 Ensuring he survives.

Departing quickly as he came,
 He leaves without farewell
Except for rocking of the buoy
 And tolling of the bell.

Then in the skies above the cove,
 The pelican flies free
While gazing at that azure line
 Where heaven meets the sea.