The nearly-old woman had rowed across an entire ocean.
Sick of water and the hyena laughs of seagulls’ cries, she found herself dreadfully lonely. A certain kind of lovely ennui.
Upon finally reaching a shore, she steps onto land.
Snatching up and opening her waterproof satchel, she snaps off her final dry match from the little book.
Striking the head, the lady sets the flame to the first tree she sees.
The limbs swallow it and ignite.
The fire brigade arrives, as hoped, her bidden welcome wagon heeding its combusted summons.
They were upset.
“You seem upset. It’s just a trick I learned from the matchstick boys,” she shrugs.
Kids soon arrive to witness the hullabaloo. The fragrance of the fire turns to a stinking reek, as they throw garbage to feed the pyre. Glass, aluminum, become explosives, followed by bombs of pubescent giggling.
“Why are you here?” the exasperated chief inquires.
“Because you have land here.”
“Because the ocean thrust me here.”
“Why were you on a rowboat in the ocean to begin with?!”
“I was exiled from another strip of land for starting fires. Shall I grab a bucket of water? I’ve experienced putting them out, too. Water? Wood? I can carry six of one and a half dozen of the other.”
“Matchstick boys teach you that, too?” asks the chief.
“No. Priapus protects them against prosecution. They never developed a taste for accountability.”
“And, you did?”
“Yes, chief. I’m an honest fire bug,” she says.
She reaches into the camisole grasping her breasts and slides out a demure rectangle. Opening her copper cigarette case, she removes one and waggles the rest at the chief.
“Want one? They make your skin look younger and your hair shine brighter.”
The chief shakes his head.
She delicately clasps the slight case closed and taps the head of the smoke twice against shut copper. Packing it.
“Suit yourself,” she says slipping the case away, against her heart.
She gingerly leans into the burning bush which is all that remains of the smouldering tree.
She inhales, putting fire to leaf, lighting her penultimate square.
She watched his exposed pocketwatch glitch, continually clicking on 1:13.
“Your timepiece has a hiccup,” she says.
“No. That hitch in its get along preserves a piece of time specifically.”
“Oh Specific Standard Time?” she teases.
He rolls his eyes.
That frozen timezone where this intensity of scent memory seduces all into succumbing. Cologne in an elevator. Columbarium. The sweet soap the waitress who touches your shoulder wears. The aroma of my shampoo lingering on your throw pillows.
“You shed, you know?” he says.
“I have known for a while.”
“I found one of your hairs a month after you left.”
“So? Where, what was done with it, and what did you care?”
He simply makes eye contact again and stares.
Returning home, with untapped tenterhooks and tarp in her pack, she bivouacked on the sidewalk of the High Street. Too tired to care about pitching shelter after being so carelessly untiring.
He looked terrifically out of place, dressed like that, here on the trail.
She was a bit irritated at the utter distraction of him.
Yet, he was fascinating.
But, she was trying to take a walk through the woods down to the fish ladder of the old mill creek; and, here was a man in a three piece suit, postured in repose on the sopping bank, as though prostrating before some ancient pagan god.
And, from across the salmon’s spawning pond, she espied that while his necktie was perfectly knotted, the color and pattern of it did not suit his suit.
Not in the slightest.
Off-rack; Tailor made. Beholden; Bespoke
He just sat there. Brutally still, Unnaturally, there in the tall grass.
Loafers in the mud. Simply wearing all the wrong clothes.
She imagines he must be a terrible dancer.
And, she suddenly wants to interrupt him and ask for a dance.
The backside of the house was struck by sunlight following a cloud burst’s clearing.
Casted like spells looming, the pair of old trees guarding the home’s back door entryway, conjure a pair of ancient shadows, saying:
“We were planted nearly a hundred years ago. We saw it all. The doctor and his wife, first. They planted us as they built their shelter above the groping outpouring of our subterranean root structure,” says tree i.
“We saw him deliver the daughter right out of his own wife’s belly. Right next to the butler’s pantry. Midwife present to mediate the metaphysical nuances of old-timey, natural, live births,” says tree ii.
“He was the only doc in town, see,” ads tree i.
“And, we saw that daughter raise her children here, just as she had been raised above our roots,” says tree ii.
“And, though you bring us nothing but you, a lonely homesteader, we see how you learn to erect the ether of your own root’s structure,” says tree i.
“Yes, discovering the dimensions of your pyramide before constructing,” tree ii.
Build your radix for me, priapus.
Show us the wasted seed of what could have been the next generation.
The British invasion occured today, at the restaurant.
A delightful change of clientele in town for Birdfest.
Aside from the accent, the nearly, overly polite manners gave them away.
Along with the ability to smile and make kindly eye contact despite not having had their morning caffeine.
Who cares if they mean it.
Such civility for the sake of simple decency resonates with my Southern background. The South has little else to offer, currently. Hence, my leaving a few years ago.
(Serving people who have arrived to have their first cuppa in our dining room is always an intimate moment of raw honesty. Coffee, tea, or booze).
They enjoy my accent as much as I enjoy their’s. They laugh when I say ‘y’all’.”
I say it a lot. Habituated.
“Most practical pronoun in American English. Much better than ‘you all/guys’,” I tease.
Server P over hears this.
S/he snags me by my shoulder and, laughing, tells me, “I like ‘y’all’ as much as I prefer ‘they/them’!”
It makes me giggle. It makes me feel good to hear this.
Until today, coffee out ordered tea.
Eight to one.
We run out of tea pots to distribute, for the first time ever.
I convert our decaf urn to a simple pot of hot water, to meet the refill demands.
A solo diner arrives. I wave as I approach from the rear of the dining room, so he knows he has been espied and will be assisted as fast as my heels can click my steps toward him
“Oh gee, hi there. How are you? It is just me, I am afraid,” he says to the hostess (me) before she (me) has even greeted him.
I break into my you-are-dear-to-me smile, immediately.
He was not British, though he held the manners and demeanor.
He had me in age by at least one and a half decades.
Long lovely fingers, nearly sky eyes but not quite.
Like a mockingbird’s.
Like a seagull’s call, cackling at me, because I kept wanting to mistake him for someone else.
We swap a good moment.
He looks a bit bewildered when I tell him I can seat him at a table or he may sit at the bar.
I have put him on the spot and he does not know which he prefers. It makes him genuinely squirm a bit.
Most American folk are most happy to be asked for their opinion. People love to let you know that they think “this” about “that.”
“Tell you what, our best server is bartending today. You should enjoy her service. Let’s go the bar.”
He blushes, nods; and, again,
I want to mistake him for someone else.
I lead him to
seat 35, specifically.
I watch him as I work, this sweet, little, mockingbird.
He watches me working, when he thinks I am not looking, but my job here is to always be looking.
I watch him try to subtlety watch me.
I avert my gaze, at times.
Eventually, I can no longer refrain.
I walk over to him and say, “I just want you to know you have such beautiful eyes. Exceptional.”
He gives me a look of shock and discombobulated confusion.
I touch my palm to his shoulder and walk away.
‘Exceptional’ because he recalls someone shamefully impeccable.
The cars below do not feel the apparent-wind like us walk-ons do.
A pair passes by me. I hear: “How did those stickers get put on there?”
Orcas, while rarely seen, do swim here in the Sound.
A family passes by me.
“How did those stickers get put on there?” I hear again.
On the bench to my right, a fellow in a cowboy hat is photographed by a slight and pixie-like gal.
She has a camera. A proper, right aperature. She does not repurpose her cell phone for the task. Perhaps it speaks to the value she places upon her subject and the tools required to properly achieve her artistic desired ends.
On the other side of the water is a Townsend of a port. It is filled with salty sea dogs of the best kind. One of the last bastions in the world of expertise and experience re: wooden sailboats.
It was built in a decidedly Victorian style during the late 1800’s. Elaborate stone buildings that would seem more at home in the UK.
It maintains four independent bookstores, all on the main [sic. high] street.
Always a positive sign. Yet, one that I seldom see.
The song of a pied piper.
The voice of reluctant troubadour.
An outburst from a seagull sounded like a car alarm.
Investments were made here with the intent to create a massive, international shipping port. This place was supposed to be what Seattle became, but the railroads did not lay track here as anticipated. They routed through Seattle.
A hazy cover of clouds lingers. There are immense mountains so close by, yet abiding unseen.
I pass two places that I recall having seen in dreams. Deja v/u/iew.
And, it smells like the Gulf of Mexico does. Destin, AL, just next to the Florida’s panhandle.
Salt. Seaweed. It reeks of things always being wet and never drying out.
It is a town of artisans, artifacts, and craftsmen. As it was explained to me: It is a sailor’s paradise because there are only 24 days of “good” sailing weather here.
I consider that type of sailor. Yup, they are the same sea dogs that still build their vessel from wood and not fiberglass.
There are rigger shops every other block. Schooners, sloops, cutters, ketches: the number of sails and the number of masts varies, but they all require a great deal of properly positioned and tightened rope. It becomes a specialty, like navigational skill.
It sings of waves falling down. It hints at waters ceaselessly lapping rocky shores like relentless thoughts and worries carving canyons in the contents of your confidence.
Seagull shit stained rocks and buildings made of stone. Barnacle blooms come into view on the hulls and the buoys during this time of low tide.
I feel the demands of a restless mind clicking out thought and notion like an antique stock ticker. I cipher telegrams regarding the health of your economy.
Waveform and flows rising and ebbing. Coming like crimson tides in the waters of words flooding my mind’s. Aye.
A hum escapes and vibrates from my throat. A quirk. A noise I make unconsciously when roaming in my mind.
Have you ever surprised yourself by hearing your own voice?
I speak mostly through unspoken scrawls. My loudest voice comes from silence when speech is expected. Fishermen hooking attention.
The vocal manifestation of the underlying punctuation is realized through the intervals.
Rests between notes.
How many beats per minute in the measures of the sentences comprising your composition? Moving as do canvas and a pallete knife conjure acrylics into patterns.
All boats must be houseboats when afloat. They are the sustainable sanctums stopping you from dropping into the briney depths.
While it may keep you from taking the plunge immediately, it does grant you access to the deeper and deeper waters, where both stillness and churning are ever present.
Path-carving the sloshing surface.
There are seagulls cackling out “ha-ha-ha” from all around. It sounds much like the blahyadablah of the “hi. how are ya’s,” or like all adults to Charlie Brown.
There are no speed boats here.
Fast and flashy find no quarter.
How am I?
The shopkeep asks.
I know that I am, but how it is that I am, I do not know.
Do you know how you are?
I make. I do, that much I also know to be true.
I smile and say “Oh you know, I’m covering the spread.”
I stop by the independent record shop.
They sell vinyl with a smattering of cassette tapes and other obsolete formats.
They do not sell CD’s. Great curation.
I got the cassettes below for four dollars U.S.
After asking the owner what the price is, I am informed the MD is a mix made years ago by an employee, to be played in the shop. It was given to me for free. The shopkeeper was highly amused at my interest in it.
I mention that seeing three albums by Mott the Hoople made my day.
The shop owner says: started my day with them.
He reaches under the counter and produces the album sleeve for The Hoople.
A sea of faces in hair.
A child eyeballs me on the ferry ride home. Sliding closer and closer to me.
I say: I’m Casey.
S/he says: I didn’t ask you.
I say: I just thought I’d tell you.
Macy then tells me many things very quickly.
S/he worries deeply about the dangers of sharks when s/he takes the ferry, for instance.
S/he stops speaking briefly and stares at me and says: I think my eyelashes are like yours. We have the same eyelashes.