Owl’s Head, 1980s, by M. Regan

i.      The Ocean
        Gilded crests and metallic prisms
        are shattered now, transmuted now:
        emerald to tanzanite to sapphire to silver
        in accordance with nor’eastern alchemy.
        Like birth, the horizon becomes distinct bodies;
        you watch as sea splits free from sky.
        And there, between—a line across deep water:
        an ouroboros loop betwixt past, present, shore.
        Serpentine, it ribbons on the backs of swells,
        incorporeal and hazed. Rising and falling.
        When the wave reaches sand, bleaches beach,
        you think you’ve fallen back through time.
ii.     The Fog
        Like your maritime fellows, you yearned for Paradise
        till it was close enough to choke you with lungfuls of cloud.
        Armageddons come without trumpets or fire;
        the void exhales, and through nebulous breath
        the silhouettes of sea stacks remind you
        of ancient chapels, burnt to ash.
        The word that you are looking for is liminal:
        that space between Heaven and Hell and
        the crushing, inky black associated with nihility.
        Veil upon veil, shroud upon shroud,
        the ethereal unfurls around you, cloaking and reminding you
        that you were a corpse long before you died.
iii.    The Ship
        Pitch left, pitch right, press on through darkness.
        Sweat lingers at the temple, brackish then cold.
        Her hull is two or three and susceptible;
        her mind undammed and thoughts a-flowing;
        her emotions tidal, loadstars in her eyes.
        A child is built to weather the unknown.
        Pitch left, pitch right, round the hall’s tight corner.
        Fabrics froth at tiny feet: surging, washing
        over skin as smooth as newly christened figureheads.
        You guide her with the practiced touch
        of a man who spent a lifetime steering vessels
        with cheaper parts, fewer joints, more souls aboard.
iv.    The Light
        “Fog’s rolling in! Time to put the foghorn on!”
        Startled, they listen, they go, off to do their duties.
        Obedient, they listen, they go, off into the light.
        And you, on the stairs, on the precipice,
        feel the little girl’s smile ripple out
        of her small self and into your own.
        “Will you go, too?” she asks,
        her voice two or three and susceptible again.
        “Will you go off into the Light?”
        Through an atramentous window, mourning winds wail;
        the ocean waves, and you recognize the summons.
        But you have ignored the inevitable for this long.

M. Regan has been writing for over a decade, with credits ranging from localization work to short stories to podcast scripts. Their soulful debut novella, 21 Grams, can be found on Amazon and Timber Ghost Press’s website, while they can be found on Twitter and Facebook at @MReganFiction.

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