Port town

By day she sees them
framed against the sky,
gleaming steel and paint,
steady hull, stern and bow
and sun flashing on portholes.

She doesn’t mind the cold
or the seagulls that
crowd her at midday.
She likes being close
to a line of departure,
to structures brimming
with a promise of going,
the sloping beach where
she sits to watch the sun
sink somewhere
beyond her vision.

The town is a bustle of
tourists and day trippers,
locals soaking up cider and sun,
coffee-dry laughs
and the smell of fish,
narrow, art-peppered laneways
and the old man on the corner,
playing the concertina.

She doesn’t think of planes now
when she thinks of flight;
at night she dreams of
a picture frame
without the picture,
of steel and paint
and portholes gleaming
like pale eyes in the dark,
watchful, unwavering,
piercing her with
inanimate understanding.

Alexis Lateef (Western Australia)

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