I stopped at the shoreside supermarket and bought the same store made tuna sandwich she ate the day the fourth stage exploded—bloated, pregnant with pain; acid like a stubborn demon roasting her throat; nauseous in wobbling blows; hardly eating, throwing up nothing but a slough of bile; hardly sleeping, the slightest nod popped by a spume of chyme or upchuck—night by day by night, hours of encores at the ER, until an ultrasound found her liver riddled. The tuna sandwich. Later I ate it on an acre of flat sand, the sun saucing my face, the river sauntering into salt. Fuck you, tuna. Fuck you, nature. Sea stacks like time’s golems. The backpack lightened of ash. Two dogs wag me to a wake, and I feed each a bit of fish, flesh. An owner calls a name. No one calls mine, of course—four miles from my car, 100 miles from home. Beautiful Billy, she’d say now and then when I walked into her bedroom in the morning, fearful of the fresh and ruthless suffering I’d find. Beautiful, like the shallows of the sea culminating a woman in pale colors and cool swirls, or dark words awash in white, a froth of thought and then the end—one story over, another to begin.
high tide coming in