The owner’s family photos smiling in the living room,
happy landlords. These windows closed, I can’t hear
the ocean, I don’t remember any of our street names,
the forgetful beach three stories below giving more
and more of itself to receding tide so shallow I could
walk to the horizon and hardly cover my knees. I can
see you and Ruth Ann walking back from the Hyatt,
redwood chairs, redwood deck, workmen smearing
pungent sealer that takes her breath away. She stumbles
in the sand and you hold her around the waist like a
mother. No one knows why she’s losing her voice,
why she faints in the bathroom, why she lived so many
years with a husband now behind me watching C-Span,
the senators trying to impeach someone for love that was
or is not love. Nor sex. Ruth Ann doesn’t cry anymore.
Just emits a low wailing sound like something that
might be out there calling its mate, half out of water,
flailing the darkness below. I watch you take her
under an arm and navigate the sand giving way,
light pouring from the north, over Port Royal Sound,
bathing the afternoon in silence and recrimination.

John Allman | Mudlark No. 31
Contents | Swash Line