Seventh Summer

by a contributor

Brendan Sullivan

The boy remembered his seventh summer
how pelicans haunted the bay,
swooping down
to snatch tiny minnows
and ghost crabs
hidden in the waves.
His grandmother died in June
old lady smell and tuberoses
filling the parlor
where guests offered prayers
crushed tight like robins.
It rained all day
God’s judgment
his mother said,
her tearless face terrifying
beneath the long black veil
as her hands pushed away the coffin.

In July he went fishing,
the reek of blood worms
churning his stomach
while the boat rocked
and the sun ate up the sky;
the thick black of beetles
chewing through his jeans
as he pretended to fly
in a plane with no wings.
His father came home late August
shiny new medals
bursting holes in his chest,
the shrapnel in his head
lending him a stranger’s voice,
and promised this time would be different

But his mother stopped dancing in the garden
and took to her bed again
claiming God was now the enemy
and his father talked
only to the whiskey bottles
hidden in the basement
where the maw of early autumn
settled in like men of straw.

Brendan Sullivan is a lifelong beach bum who has turned from acting to poetry, as he finds it a more remarkable and at times, reliable muse. He also enjoys surfing, sailing and diving. His work has been published at Wordsmiths, The Missing Slate, Every Writer’s Resource, Gutter Eloquence, A Sharp Piece of Awesome, After Tournier, Bareback Magazine and Bare Hands.