by Cathi Grandfield
Down by the docks there is a famous seagull, and a group of men sit looking at the ships, the sailors, and the lighthouse on the breakwater. They have notebooks. They are sitting on folding chairs and listening to the lilt of language and the waves and the gulls. They sniff the air. They make notes. Here a swagger, there an oath, everywhere a flap-flap. They look out to deep water and see the big fish. Dark shapes humping and falling. The sky reddens. There is war. There is a storm. There are pirates. There is a whale. (Oh, pardon me, a woman with long blonde hair is writing about wombs and tides.) And then. They slam shut the notebooks, fold the chairs, and go away for a drink. And I stay here and watch the searchlight go on and zip up my jacket. Over black starry water, the seagull teaches me to fly.
I run from my house to the side of the mountain, and cold rain falls on the city lights. The sky is black except for lightning, and the face of my schoolteacher looms above me in a cloud. My boyfriend laughs wickedly. When I arrive home from school, Mother says goodbye and escapes with Cinderella in a pumpkin coach. The horses’ breath hangs in the night air. I read my brother’s book and copy his notes and the teacher asks why I am late. The bus turns a corner, and my boyfriend smiles, but it is not really my boyfriend, and I dive into the icy water. Some horses are afraid of drowning. They plunge into liquid darkness and forfeit their eternal souls. My father said he felt the same way when he was my age.