[Published in Noted Magazine March 2017]


I went running near the beach one morning – the river banked on the sand,

spilled sanguine, buried in the spur – the sky held up its red hands,

wringing together forming clouds. I went running through a cold, fierce

wind, my hair blown back like the head of a gull.


My father was Catholic, my mother Protestant and they fought

each other like the Irish. It happened every day when I was a boy

and I ran away a couple of times, headed for the beach. I ran into the

wind-whipped sand – the only ones awake, the birds.


Sand blew and hewn in whorls of giant golden skirts. I imagined a girl

dancing, twirling in the music of morning now, lonely here as Autumn –

but my thighs ached and my calves burned and she went away with the wind.

I ran at her body, in it: a baptism of flies, buzzing and at my ears,

their bites swiping and digging, wings like little fleshy paper.


I turned and ran from the beach. Heavy concrete and gravel Midas-gold, my

breath dry and raw. Walking home I saw a pregnant rat. Its belly engorged

and stretched, pink and balloon-like. Its black eyes saw me and she ran away.

Just fitting through a hole in a garage door.


© Michael Holloway