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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.