DOROTHY CANTWELL

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POETRY

Image by Lewis Roberts

We Came Home Like Wild Cats

Barefoot and wild, our calloused feet shredded
from barnacles and mysterious sharp shards
or jagged edges hidden between rocks at low tide
We whispered the word tetanus and quickly forgot.
Our legs dripped with the blood of scratched
mosquito bites and gashes from rusted fishhooks,
slices of shattered brown glass left in the sand.
Pain was borne as a natural state for our unrestrained
bodies and spirits

Fearless and feral, free in a way that that we
would ache to recreate for the rest of our days, and
some of us did, ravaging our adult lives with the same
wanton recklessness, heedless of damage to body or soul.
Wounds, lacerations were ignored, gouges washed
with salt water. Flaps of skin whitened, splinters stayed
imbedded, scabs were picked, hearts hardened.
There were warts on our fingers
and dirt under our nails.

We came home like wild cats, seeking food and shelter
but no solace or comfort for the bruises and battle
scars from our ferocious passions and savage adventures.
Once, in the harsh glare of the bathroom light
my grandmother used a butterfly to pull together
the torn skin over my eyebrow. I screamed at the searing
shock of iodine, more dreadful than my own blood
But it was she who cried,
Your face… your beautiful face…

We slept sprawled together in tangled, sandy sheets,
our bodies coated with salt, sticky corn butter, strings of
melted marshmallows, watermelon, soda, all sorts of sweetness.
Our hair plastered in whorls to our hot foreheads.
And the rhythm of the sea outside the window
mixed with the sounds of our open-mouthed snores,
mystifying utterances, moans, murmurs
and sudden cries from deep within
our hectic dreams.

The White Bird

Rusted locks break and crumble
Doors of dark rooms unhinge
Ghost swarm of memory surrounds
like the stench of the open, fetid mouth
of a mean drunk.

There was a day
on an empty August beach
when a white bird sat,
curled like a cat,
next to me in the sand,
while others reeled and dove in fury
smashing clam shells and whelks against rocks
each bird wild to tear out the living heart
from the shattered shell.

She comforted me.

Others wait on Hitchcock wires, ready to strike.

Dorothy Cantwell lives in NYC and has worked as an educator, actor and playwright. Her work has been published in the Long Island Literary Journal, Brownstone Poetry Anthologies, Constellate Literary Journal, Flash Boulevard, Assisi, River and South Review, Angel City Review and Poetrybay. She’s been a featured poet in Great Weather for Media Sunday Series, The Phoenix Reading Series, Brownstone Poets, and the Huntington Poetry Barn.

8 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    The poetry brings me back to my summers on the north shore of Long Island. I could smell the salt in the air as I read these beautiful poems.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    Thank you Dorothy! Love these. As summer days wane, it’s wonderful to read your beautiful words and intense images.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Wow ! Can see some Seamus has snuck in to your style, love this stuff!

      Reply
  3. Anonymous

    Dottie..sorry if that is no longer an appropriate moniker but as I sit on the beach on Nantucket I know how the sea has always been part of our souls and you put those feelings into poetry. Thank you

    Reply
  4. Michele Barnes Barnes

    Dorothy, I am in awe of your creativity! The way you weave your words and the memories are so poignant! I’m with you going on those barnacles, we didn’t care about discomfort. We were wild! You reminded me of how we were and still can be. Never mind about the sand in our suits. I could go on, but you said it so well.
    LOVE YOU!

    Reply
  5. Robin Hardman

    I love every incredibly well-chosen word! These are so visceral–just returned from a beach vacation so they are particularly evocative…well done!

    Reply
  6. Carol

    Your amazing words are transforming! Your creativity entreats me to read and imagine again. What a gift you send us!

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    I could not enjoy your words more, wow!!! ❤️

    Reply

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