She has asked you something, but you again inhabit the mariner dredging dry fish bones from the wharf. He casts the line, but it plumbs too deep in the ink of forgotten waters, descends the brainstem to the throat, throat to chest, lungs to stomach. You are a well; inside you is a pit growing with the fisherman’s attempt, with empty reeling and recasting, and no answers are brought to your lips. No answer has ever been brought, it seems, because rats have lived in these walls for too long, and the dock’s boards too long ago fell to moss, to barnacles, to black ooze and violet fungus, and you say nothing, and you make no motion to answer. Cliffs proceed at the sides of the wharf, for no man is an island; all are fjords, wave-cracked and jagged, and the ocean fills each vein with salt, with amnestics, and nothing has ever lived outside this wharf. A river cleaves you and her, and in this river float eyes, float flames, float all the adornments of tact and decorum, float cormorants and pelicans which bob for these, scavenge these, and retreat to nests hidden in the folds of high rocks. As such, nothing of worth will ever catch on the man’s hook, and the wind rages again between the cliffs, and a rat falls into the black glass of an ocean and catches fire. Smoke rises to an alarm in the amygdala, and the mariner retires for one minute or one week or any stretch between.
“Yes,” you say. “I’d love that.”
Landon Wittmer is an emerging writer from Grand Rapids, Michigan, whose writing explores the unspoken tensions of interpersonal encounters and the nature of community. His poetry parses the permeable membrane between verse and prose to find similar borders between individuals in conversation. His other work can be found in Mag 20/20, the Periwinkle Pelican and Gastropoda.