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from The Lighthouse Keeper (Timberline Press, 2001)

(September, 1900, Galveston, Texas)

before the Great Storm of 1900,
a calm breeze rustles palm fronds
like cotton castanets. The evening sky
is opalescent, disturbed by nothing


but the glides, swoops, and dives of gulls.
The children are nonchalant,
licking their bright red lollipops,
stuffing their mouths with sticky


pink wads of cotton candy.
The waves, grown mysteriously angry,
strike shell beds with the opening notes
of Beethoven's Fifth. The puppet limbs


of lovers are thrashing in the sky,
the cotton threads of their lifelines
twisting, fraying, held by but the screaming
of the brute, careening gulls.