Ocean City

April 10th, 2009

Like an old lover met in a market on a Sunday evening, the wind,
both rigid and arctic, cuts us down. Cairns of trash rise at the edges
of the beach. In the frigid darkness, following the unknown trail through
the waist-high grasses, these monuments to nature’s impending death stand
ominous against the grey line of sky above the black roaring ocean.
Henry holds me with one hand, his dollar-store gun with the other. He shoots
bad guys until I make him stop, spooked by the crooked path, by the screaming
of the wind in the night. We pause on the empty shingle, the water still
far away. Or perhaps we are near to drowning: without light, who can
tell? The children shiver and crowd close. One step too many and they will fade
into the gusting night and disappear. In the sky, the stars are as numerous
as the sand dollars who, broken, bleached and scattered, spread
their brittle bones upon the hissing sand. We walk back to the light
of a single torch, its thin beam a dancing circle in the grass.

© Jessica Minier Mabe