A broken chair amid
Small broken joys
Wait weeks by curbsides
Up and down these broken streets
For broken trucks.
One morning every two weeks more or less, when the falling tide aligns with the rising sun just right, Elaine and I wheel our homemade dinghy down to the end of our street where it meets the sandy bank of the Tolomato. We launch the boat there and row across the river to Indian Creek where we explore and map its several winding navigable channels and their shallow branches that slice through the marsh’s cordgrass; where we marvel at the heron, and the ibis, and the stork that hunt knee deep in the shallow waters near oyster bars and take flight with wing-beating haste as we draw near; where we seek out promising locations to fish for mangrove snapper, spotted sea trout, and black and red drum.
You would not think it, but each and every boating morning, upon climbing out of sleep and as I wait for daylight to leak into night’s darkness, I listen with languid longing for the sound of rain or of strong wind so that I might whisper to my wife that we must cancel our outing and that we might console ourselves in a second sleep.
Fortunately, the gods care for me to the extent that they rarely provide me with a heavenly-excused absence from our undertaking. They are better aware than I that the audible snap of bone against bone as my legs slide from under the covers and bend over the bed’s edge and that the satanic tingling in my left foot as it touches the floor are indicative of the indisputable truth that the greater part of my life stretches far behind me, and yet so much of our understanding of Indian Creek lacks sufficient detail. They are also better aware – praise them – that the taste of eggs, and bacon, and strong coffee prove more gratifying and flavorsome when consumed as Elaine and I pencil in the latest additions to our master map upon our return later that morning.
In the woods at the back of the house,
The young girls stand amidst the oaks,
Their eyes raised to the leafy canopy above them.
They do not move, nor do they speak.
They hear only the tap, tap, tap sound up and to their left.
They search for the drummer’s location.
By the door at the back of the house,
The grandfather watches the girls in the woods.
He hears a woodpecker at work.
He does not move, nor does he speak.
He chases an ethereal notion
That the girls, and the oaks, and the woodpecker are one.
As day breaks in the summer
When the sun is at its farthest point north,
The boundary between my bedroom world inside
And my garden world outside
Steadily weakens in the glass doors to our backyard deck
To the point where my wife is able to dress
In two realms at the same time:
Here by the bed next to me
And there under our oaks amid the red salvia.
To old shop
Four times closed
With two locks
on three clocks
In the spring, at the west end of Third Street
Before the outgoing tide slackens
And the sun reaches sky back behind you
You may see one or few aging fishermen
Scurry like sand crabs
Round the rocks
And under the docks
At water’s edge along the slim beach.
Some will zigzag north toward Fifth
And others south toward the marshland
Each according to starting point or inclination
And each directed by a guarded mental map
Drawn from distinct experiences
Including such notations as
When to pause
And where to cast
And how many times
Into the shallow waters before dashing on.
They hunt, of course, the flounder that
Lie in wait for prey of their own.