At the end of the splintered pier
my brother aimed camera toward shore
to capture hotel lights
studding the slick black sea,
and I sighed, relieved I think,
at what we'd keep. Developed,
the picture disappointed:
those long bright rectangles,
then made of lines so precise, now
smeared in a darkness so flat,
so formless, empty.
No hint of the summer heat,
thick over the water as fog,
how heaving sea in a static swallowed
the carnival noise of shore,
baptizing it in immense silence;
the tall gray and white ghosts
of hotels hovering over bleached sand,
and us past the crashing. A man,
gray and salted as the pier, tells
the legend of the shark he caught,
its vulnerable white belly,
its needling teeth.
The photo did not remember
a warm wet breeze, breath
from the mouth of immensity,
us on the edge of it
and now I tell you this as seen
through the clouded glass
of many bitter seasons.
Should I stand on the pier
 now, even now, I would see
with the soul of an old dog
lying down heavy in August dust,
but then with a firefly's essence 

I hovered, lifted by air
and filled with burning--
now I would at the sight
of all that reflected light,
hotel rooms inverted into
drowned lanterns still lit,
descend to that shadowed island
of silence within,
but then, tipsy with ticking,
a heedless hurried clock,
soft, and light, I lifted
into flight.

Phoebe Nale 2019

Phoebe Nale

Mary Ann Honaker is the author of It Will Happen Like This (YesNo Press, 2015). Her work has appeared in 2 Bridges, Drunk Monkeys, Euphony, Juked, Little Patuxent Review, Off the Coast, Van Gogh’s Ear, and elsewhere, and has been nominated for a Pushcart prize. Mary Ann holds an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University. She currently lives in Beckley, West Virginia.