All year, vacation houses goose their skirts
up housewife legs, their stilts a tiptoed recoil
from the ocean edging toward them like disgrace.
These homes, though January lonesome, aren’t
about to let their garters down. Waves cowlick
the sand into a beach scarp, muss the shore;
gulls clump in water like white blood cells choke
a virus. In a coffee shop beside
the marina, locals mourn the loss of one
more fort, the road now disappearing, ghosting
their history, a barrier spit sizzing
to silence. The barista shares his sermon
notes with the regulars who skipped last night’s
service, the scraps that smack of parables
with unintended consequence. These out-
of-season men who kneel to Gulf and God
make mold of myth. The salt-clean air bows up
against their church’s stained-glass windows, then,
with mainland guilt, they still sit, pray, and rise.
I leave them for the shore again, sit blank
on sandy bas reliefs of wind erosion.
Erode me. Be the bellows and the ballast
and the hull of me, and take me somewhere else,
not land-locked, burb-docked Birmingham, not home,
not industry and smoke, not brick and steel,
not the sweltering side of the color wheel.
A plane writes nothing in the sky, but I
still try to piece together letters in
the exhaust trail—noughts and crosses, dotted i’s.
A lighthouse vertigo blips every twenty
seconds through me, those miner’s-daughter veins
engorged with some hereditary need
to crawl and excavate. Since here I have
no past to enter, nothing I can ruin,
power’s stripped down to air and simple prayers,
a silence blanched like the cross stuck in these dunes—
another foreign object in curetted
land. I’m another set of empty hands
refusing water as the seabirds whirr
on scissor legs, their chaos testament
to motion, their lockstep some defense of rest.
Cheyenne Taylor received her MA in English with a focus on poetry and poetic forms from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2016. She still lives in Birmingham where she now works at a public library. She received a scholarship to attend the West Chester University Poetry Conference in June 2016, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Blinders Literary Journal, Southern Women’s Review, Dirty Chai, and Fourteen76.