A broken chair amid
Small broken joys
Wait weeks for broken trucks
Up and down these broken streets.
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.
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.
Behind Nix Boatyard and up Oyster Creek, across from the southeast corner of Creekside Restaurant’s dirt parking lot, past the wood pile, through the trees, and over the damaged docks lining the creek on this bank, clean over to the landing on the creek’s far side, you will see, should you choose to look in that direction upon exiting your vehicle, the two-masted schooner, Resilience out of Rhode Island. Under repair by its owners after being battered in October’s hurricane, Resilience will not set a northward course home for at least one more month. However, you might predict – and more than one seaman has already agreed – that, once she is under full sail, she promises to be one of the most beautiful sights afloat. Furthermore, you may, however briefly, be filled with calming courage and a spirit of adventure, and square your shoulders with casual confidence and determination as you stride toward your appointment for dinner.