Sierra Golden

Town Day

In Pelican, they say the dump, a mile outside of town, is the only place with cell service.

And so he clomps off the boat

and off the float, up the ramp,

away from town, hot showers,

a fresh bag of flour, and stamps


for stacks of love notes he wrote

on watch ignoring the whales.

He turns left at the King hung

from a ladder’s rung, gills veiled


with blood, and puddled guts saved

for the dogs baying under

the boardwalk. Quick sounds of town

give out to the woods and dump.


There’s no silence. It’s all breeze,

spruce trees whiskering his ears, 

and eldritch calls—ravens 

scavenging bones and beer cans.


Today’s the day he finally

gets to call his one sweetheart. 

All that time fishing, nothing

but Skipper’s grunts cut the hard


face of solitude. Ten days

waiting for invisible 

waves to carry his tin voice

across vast land, across dull,


plain houses huddled in clumps,

and into cold plastic pressed

to the precious ear his tongue

loves to enter, caressing


calyx-whorls of cartilage

and tender folds of pink flesh,

and so all day at the dump

he dials and dials his best half,


fingers moving like pretty

please, like knock on wood, like long 

prayers, like rain dancers bright

in his loneliness who stomp


for a connection that comes 

on just the right wind above 

the tattered trash. It does what 

it can to keep them in love.


Sierra Golden


“Town Day” was originally published in Gulf Coast.