Trying to Leave Galloway
Sister’s cell phone bill hasn’t been paid
by her boyfriend so she has to borrow a phone
to call. The bus that usually runs from Broad
and Snyder isn’t on Martin Luther King Monday,
and she misses the bus from the Greyhound station
because they change gates.
When she arrives in Atlantic City, she gets on
a wrong bus, #508 instead of #559, #508 used
to run to the Seaview, at least I think, doing it all
on the fly while trying to organize a lunch at
the Lobster House for lunch in Cape May,
so it may be my fault.
When we finally get there, they have stopped
serving lunch in the dining room at 3 o’clock,
not their usual 3:30, so we eat in the coffee shop
where they will serve a full lobster dinner if you ask.
Sister gets the biggest lobster tail I have ever seen,
must be out of Maine, where Brother lives, where
the season’s been extended because of good weather.
I lost my gloves when the rental car company tried
to rent me a hybrid, only in the dark of Philadelphia
when I arrive, I cannot really tell when it’s on or off,
and I know what I’m like after flying all day, know
I could end up on the side of the road crying, and
everyone would think I’d lost all my money in
Atlantic City and have run out of gas even though
it’s a hybrid. We stop at a dollar store to buy a new
pair of gloves.
There’s a security gate now on the way onto the ferry
to Lewes where Mother’s ashes have been spread.
We sail over and back at least once a year to visit her grave.
But it’s below zero and the wind is biting so hard we never
leave the cabin even though I also bought birds to toss
about where Mother now resides in a black plastic bag
at the bottom of the bay. Brother didn’t loosen the tie or
have us sprinkle her, just tossed her, bag and all, from where
the cars ride, which isn’t as important today because I left
the birds in the car when we parked on shore, no need
to drive on board since we’re coming right back.
The sunset is one of those reds that the Delaware Bay
is known for that could be as much from pollution from
the South Philadelphia oil refineries that when Mother
and Sister returned after years of living in a New Jersey
Levittown they had to sign a waiver acknowledging
that incidences of cancer are higher in the neighborhood
where they bought a funeral parlor and turned it back into
a home, tearing down walls between small viewing rooms.
From my peripheral vision, which Sister does not have
because she’s legally blind, I see an intermittent flash
of light, only it’s also going up and own. It’s choppy
and Sister’s looking a bit green from the vertigo after
being hit by a car as she crossed Market Street.
It’s the lighthouse from the point at Cape May,
only it’s not just bobbing, but plunging up and down
like the arm of an oil well. The spread is more than
the window I’m now looking out of. The ferry is not
supposed to sail in more than 10 foot seas. We are close
enough in some of the dips that no one can walk straight
on the way to the bathroom.
We always call Brother from her grave. He says that when
the doctor palpitated his neck after the chemo and radiation,
he could still feel a lump. He never got sick as Sister is about to,
no matter whether he was in a typhoon, or tsunami, or Hurricane
Katrina when he was docked in New Orleans and they took
the Iraq War military transport to sea to ride it out. The burns
on the side of his neck that was tattooed were the worst part.
They have finally healed. He’s now eating four forkfuls of
solid food at meals. He may have to start the treatment over
again after they remove what’s left of the lump.
Somehow being stranded at the airport after not being able
to get through the security screening in time even though
I started at 4:30 A.M. feels like the worst part. But then
things build. And we’re used to blindness and rough seas
and sickness, but just not getting stuck.
Kyle Laws’ recent collections include So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press, 2015); Wildwood (Lummox Press, 2014); George Sand’s Haiti (co-winner of Poetry West’s 2012 award published 2013); and My Visions Are As Real As Your Movies, Joan of Arc Says to Rudolph Valentino (dancing girl press, 2013). www.kylelaws.com