[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