Off the Dock
Things are not always dead. Dad’s elbow, for instance, I thought I saw it folding in the shallows among the orange tree scraps. Mom dumps them off the end to float the creek. There’s a tide here. Some things get stuck in the mud, or hold like rusted lures to oyster beds. I used to swear I caught something worth hollering about, fishing with Dad along the edge, hooked on a shell, pulling until the line broke. But there are no ropes tied to these trimmings, no telling where they’ll land. Like his bird-limbs at night, tossing to the side in shallow sleep, she’d have to watch them. Work never left, hung thick as gulls off the end. They think Mom’s throwing out food scraps. She does sometimes—old meat, molded bread, mashed potatoes. These birds just want to eat, know what it means to survive for each other. But seagulls, they get disappointed too. There’s no life in these limbs, not the kind they’re looking for. But then I thought I heard Dad yelling from down the creek, the wheelbarrow squeaking to the end again. I saw an orange tree sinking beneath the tide, wrapped like a barnacle in the dock line.
On this full-bellied day in Hartford, Connecticut I am walking around smoking a cigarette thinking of all the ways I could make a thing. My cat is pregnant. His name is Mother and he’s a real mother fucker of a brute. He’s done all the right things, apparently. He’s been following all the lovely girls around town wrapping them up in his own way and he’s as wide as a snowstorm. My igloo is getting warm in here too. It will not be long before it is not an igloo and thus my little one will not be a little one. Everyone’s all walking around here blown up. I am thinking about tying strings to them all just in case. It’s a cold morning in November and my shoes aren’t doing the job. A girl my age passes pregnant and I place my hand on her belly. We are in an alley sharing a cigarette and she reaches out and touches mine. We are spinning smoke and talking about the next move and the effects on third trimester. We are waiting for the blow. Last time the explosions were slow and from the inside, then the city went up in its first cry. We are waiting for the first cry. Me and this girl.
Grant Kittrell recently received his MFA from Hollins University, where he was a Jackson Fellow and the recipient of a Fine Arts Grant. He has served as an editor for The Hollins Critic and is currently Poetry Editor for Fiction Fix. Grant was nominated for Best New Poets 2014 and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Common, Heavy Feather Review, Magma Poetry and Poemeleon, among others.