The light of your room echoes in the water at night.
A perfume of burning wood from a nearby pit fire
and the breeze off the dock strikes me, to suddenly notice that
I have been staring at your house for a good three minutes, not
really knowing what to expect, my mind not entirely wandering.
I take a swig of rum and rejoin my comrades. One has a cigar for me,
the one wearing glasses. Hemingway and Picasso
can keep their bullfights, and I will not bother Fitzgerald,
vacationing in New York. The Episcopal is finishing off
his martini. I light my cigar and puff it alive. It feels good.
My J. Alfred Prufrock state-of-mind is interrupted by a scream,
but it is just a boyfriend scaring his girlfriend with delight and a lemon slice.
It has always been a dream of mine to walk barefoot on the dock. It is a frequent
reality as well. I look back across the water, keeping an ear on my comrades
speaking about Shakespeare’s drug use and how he might be unearthed.
Your light is out. The reflection is gone. It would have been a pity
had I chosen to care. I point out to my comrades the sounds of faint splashing,
and inquire about fishing tomorrow. I see a middle-aged man, with a white
sea captain’s hat, arm in arm with a middle-aged woman. I’ll ask him, he’ll know.
I hope he is not just playing a part, like someone I know, who guesses
someone’s blood type based on their eye color. That would be a shame. It becomes
a shame when it turns out the couple has never stepped foot on a boat.
They wonder when karaoke will begin. I have so many mixed feelings
about that. My comrades want to head over to the fire pit, but reconsider
when they see a young man attempting to serenade a pair of girls with an acoustic guitar.
I smoke more and more of the cigar, and grab another glass of rum. My comrades are
back and forth ideas for entertainment, when you arrive. I hand you my glass of rum
and order another. The game is growing old, so we all separate and strike up conversations
with strangers, but you have things to tell me; words of affection and worries about war.
We stare out to sea, and you mention how the lights of houses reflect off the water.
M. N. O’Brien received his B.A. from Roanoke College, where his work was published in On Concept’s Edge and received the Charles C. Wise Poetry Award. His work was most recently published in SOFTBLOW and Counterexample Poetics. He currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky, constantly risking absurdity in a Ferlinghetti sentiment, playing old folk vinyl records and studying astrophysics and poetry. He feels awkward writing in the third person.