and stare across to the Old Man of Storr’s sky-pointing finger.
And here are the bobbing boats in the rippling water
and here are the children far across the kelp
yellow boots, hair stiff in the wind, going for a plodge
and here is the post office where the postmistress heaves her arse
out of the round-cushioned chair for no one
and here is the fish and chip shop serving the same cod, the same plaice.
The harbor always changes
Here is the harepin bend where Skinner Bean drove his motorbike off the edge
taking with him just-pregnant Mandy Hurlock
and here is the black bench where Maureen and Tony gave up on their marriage
and here is the deadwater where Rosie Gurley threw her engagement ring
after cutting a new row of hashmarks on her right thigh.
At night they come, the dead and the broken, lined up at the tower
staring across to the Old Man of Storr
cursing the long spiny arms of the bay that hold them and hold them
“The harbor never changes” from the poem “IV Borders” by John Burnside
Sandra Hunter’s fiction received the 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Prize, October 2014 Africa Book Club Award, 2014 H.E. Francis Fiction Award, and two Pushcart Prize nominations. She was a finalist for the 2016 Bridport Prize and received a 2017 MacDowell Fellowship. Her debut novel, Losing Touch, was released in July 2014. Her fiction chapbook, Small Change, was published in June 2016. When she’s not working on her second novel, The Geography of Kitchen Tables, she teaches English and Creative Writing at Moorpark College and runs writing workshops in Ventura and Los Angeles. Favorite dessert: rose-flavored macarons.
John breathes in deeply, feeling his chest muscles expand. Blood rushes around his shoulder muscles. He feels good. He’s going home now and will be able to be there for a while because he was told something this morning that he never knew until then: he’s non-essential.