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Goodspeed Landing
Alexandra Burack

At the waterfront café, a tall boy and small 

boy play-fight on the dock. Evening 

had metastasized for hours, and willows 

stand leafless and yellow under lamps 

along the embankment. Three strands 

of light waver on the wide river: halogens 

from a boat-launch opposite polish 

the surface the orange of dried apricots. 

The short kid’s in a superhero T-shirt 

but no match for the bigger, hoodied one, 

who throws the most punches. They tempt 

pier’s end, and I avert my eyes to scan 

the illuminated swing bridge saved by barge 

traffic, marvel that it stays closed, all the small 

lives carried safely across. I imagine the kids 

as brothers, lives unfurling on shop picture- 

windows that in daytime reflect the semaphore 

of speedboats: one paints garage-secret shore 

scenes, the other sorts feed-store chain-link, 

later years redemptive as they share the helm 

of the Hadlyme ferry. My spoon slits the calm 

milk in tea the moment some root of separation 

runs from dream to deed, as the younger boy slides 

on one foot off the dock, and his body tears 

through a loose seam of water. Screams unspool 

along the length of the lit bridge, which I first 

mistake for train whistles of my own lost 

childhood that sped toward unreachable towns; 

then home hits stark in shrieks of the older boy, 

thinned to the transparency of panic as the fist 

of his heart curls, then uncurls against the torn 

skin of the river, that when I peer down the dark, 

begins to stitch itself under the shivering gloss. 

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