Harried by the orange digits

on the dashboard,

I leaned in around

the steering wheel,

up too close

to cars in front, ripped

past gnarled clearcut

patches. My

ferry reservation

crumpled in my hand

five miles before

I waived it at

the ticket clerk–

‘I’ve got to get to a funeral!’

 

The ferry rolled forward

in the sun, chased

looping seagulls

across the straight.

By the window,

I stared into the water

until bald stumps

surfaced

in the green-grey foam.

Then the PA brought my head up–

‘Passengers, today is the Sea Carnival–

look starboard,

the clown craft race is underway!’

And there, a yellow submarine,

an orca whale, an ambulance

nudged through the waves,

while on the shore

the whole town

filled the piers to watch.

 

The mourners fought

for footing in

deep sand. Someone

offered

an inoffensive little prayer

but was cut short

by a shrieking chaos out

 

on the Straight.

Gulls fell frantic,

ravenous

on the herring bloom.

And as we trudged off,

some birds heaved

their heavy stomachs and

floated drunkenly away,

while the cloud of ashes

billowed wider

just under

the waves.

 

by Jonathan Cooper

 

Jonathan’s poems and essays have appeared in various publications including The New Plains Review, Cirque Journal, The Statesman Journal, Houseboat Literary Magazine, and Poetry Pacific. He lives with his family in Vancouver, Canada.

 

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