The salt river moves west
In from the Atlantic
Off the end of my deck.
The blue-green water
Churns and rolls
Like a washboard my mother used.
Mossy oaks reach down
To gather me in.
Baby geckos scurry
Along the railing,
Looking for safety.

The only boats on the river are
A two-sleeper cruiser and a fishing boat.
A man in a red ball cap and a blue shirt
With cut off sleeves
Rows the boat, determined,
Like he’s coming up fast
In a race he must win.
The cabin cruiser,
Using proper etiquette,
Cuts the engine to avoid
Swamping the fishing boat.
The lone fisherman rows on in rough water.
Glances around him,
Then up at the sky,
As if he is expecting rain.
But the sky is clear.
He rows hard toward the salt flats.
I can see his muscles bulge,
Like the inner tubes
Cars used when I was young.
No other boats anchor on the flats
This morning,
Only wind, water and sky.

Today might be Sunday,
Though I don’t know.
Day blends into night,
Into day,
Like ocean water
Blends into blue sky.
A few vehicles speed
By on Lady’s Island Bridge
Above my head.
One semi grinds gears,
Like my father used to grind meat.
Then he disappears in a moment.

I imagine the Islands on early Sunday morning:
St Helena’s – all the shops shuttered,
No one on the streets,
Shrimp boats clustered,
Hugging together for protection.
Harbor Island – the golden water grass
Spreads for miles,
Like a flooded carpet,
Two birds fly back and forth,
In search of home.
Hunting Island – The tan-gray
Beaches empty in the cold morning,
Alien looking under the sky,
Like undiscovered land.

I will head inside soon,
Read one of the hundreds
Of hardcover and paperback books
The previous owner
Left in the house.
I am half way through
The second reading of everything.
Novels about rescuing puppies,
Books about building shelves,
Developing a healthy ego,
Leaving your lover
Once and for all.

Sometimes I sleep,
Dream the same dream,
The firefight that has haunted me
For fifty years,
Like a heavy, damp coat
That I can’t remove.
Ralph jumps in front of me,
Out of nowhere.
Before I can stop myself,
I cut him down with the M-60,
Like a pop-up cardboard target
On a rifle range.

Soon the evening darkness
Makes only shadows of the river.
Lights appear,
One then another,
Glimmer in the night
Along Lady’s island Bridge,
And from houses across the river.
Tomorrow I will begin again,
Out here and inside,
In the midst of the
Rhythm of my life.