measured by sunset drinks,
laundry on the line and picnics on the shore.
“Isn’t Russel such dear, laughed Aunt Harriet,
“Always worried about the weather.
My glass is empty, won’t you have another.”
“My bones ache,” Old Rut grumbled,
squinting to the sou’east,
summer had darkened and fall crept close,
The few boats left in the Pool rolled in the swell making with the tide.
“I knew soon as I got up, I’d have to shift her to the mooring inside.
Goddam wind, blow one way and turn around and blow the other.”
Still morning, not a ripple, but Dickie shook his head,
“She’ll be blowing half a gale when the tide turns.
we’ll be plenty cool in all that fresh salt air.”
Later, we watched the last of the summer sailors on their beam ends
mainsails reefed down to a scrap,
beating it for harbor and home.
The old couple on the town float,
loaded their gear under the bow of their tin boat.
Eyes wide with surprise,
the familiar run gone wild with spray and jagged crests,
they edged out past the end of the ferry terminal,
into the steep chop where tide and wind met,
the bow of their little boat digging into the seas.
Four miles of open water between them and home.
“I told ’em. I said it ain’t fit, not in that boat,”
Old Rut cleaned the crusted salt off his glasses with his t-shirt.
Without them he blinked like an owl caught out in the daylight.
We watched them plow their way southward into the teeth of it.
All three of us thinking it,
none of us saying it;
Some folks ain’t fit.
Knowing it was as good odds they’d make it,
with soggy groceries and another island story,
as good odds they’d become another stone in the pile by the Sea Memorial.
The old timers knew.
The way gulls go quiet before a storm.
hard grey line in the sou’west,
swells rising on a calm day,
a shift in the wind,
the uneasy feeling when the pressure changes.
If you read this and are inspired to write try the following prompt: