I noticed the color of her eyes

changed when the landlord tossed a pig’s carcass

onto the tall blades for his dogs to gnaw.

He said he’d clean it up before it started to stink.

A few days after the pig we walked the half mile

down to see the water. I could have pulled

a mussel from the coastal rocks, cracked it

with a stone; sent it on a clothespin and

some string, like a miner, into the dark pools

between the breakers. As a kid I’d wait

for a crab to pinch, then glide up the live shell.

It would go in a bucket, with piles

of claws, sharp legs scratching.

The sun was not strong,

it was high tide and her mood had moved

with the water. She swam, looked safe, unsinkable.

So I walked a mile down the pink flesh of beach

to the lighthouse she’d left at a distance,

like a sharp hill between towns. She called it a stone

caught in her throat. Yet, it was such a dull beacon;

stained by seaweed and homeless. The windows

were broken teeth and there was no light,

no possibility of light.

So, I listened

to the sea some, thought about her breath

between strokes. Then it got dark and I went back

to where she wasn’t anymore.


The air had gone cool and my skin felt tight,

tingling from the sun and salt. The streetlights

were not on, the rows of houses were gray.

I was on a delicate string being brought up to air.

At our place the dogs were in back pawing

the dirt. In the dusk I could see no bones.

There were no lights on in the house and through

the screen door all I saw was a darkness.





First published in New Leaf 23, 2007.