Remember the full moon? White disc punched from dark sky.
I peered backwards through the rear window of the silver Mustang and would have thrown the shift lever into reverse, but I was a child powerless against grown-up patterns.
I turned forward toward the cinnamon-painted house on the stubby street where the fat dog waited for bright headlights to flood the picture window, to see us emerging, beings changed from a day among shade-rippled dunes curved sand crescents radial sand stars,
by the silent ride along a highway’s yellow lines, by what was withheld in silence, what was gained from withholding, and what we learned about love and its corollary loneliness.
Even as dusty incandescent bulbs in the rafters of the boat house dim while trees reflect in dark early water, even as the tug of the line between boat cleat and post tautens and slackens and the little brown bat swings home to its cozy under the carpet scrap roped to the beam, even as day brightens steadily—like love—and the wicker basket sits quietly as a cat on the dock, even as tide lifts the river to levee riprap and clouds billow like smoke in the east, as trackless swallows swirl high and low in the sky, even then I hear the slap of waves later in the day, anticipate the end of this hour, our ensuing parting.
Alexa Mergen lives on a boat in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Her poetry collections include Winter Garden (Meridian Press) and We Have Trees (Swim Press). Her poems appear widely in anthologies and journals including Inlandia, Solo Novo, Sow’s Ear, Turtle Island Quarterly, and Virginia Quarterly Review. Find her on Instagram @alexa_mergen.
Header photo by Zac Endter, courtesy Shutterstock.