After the Pig
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.