Passing the Last Buoy by Michael Gillan Maxwell

“It’s a short life,” he says
“and it gets shorter as we get older.”
We walk out on the breakwater
our backs to the lighthouse

Immense granite blocks
stacked tightly together
form an impenetrable barrier
against tides and time

Sailboats bob gently on their moorings 
in the harbor off starboard
to portside 
lies open sea

Indian Summer
warm sun, blue sky, sparkling water
A gull sits on a piling watching a man and boy
thread chunks of bait on hooks and fish from the rocks

“Yeah, it’s a short life,” he says.
It can be all over, just like that.
Seems we never really slow down
to be fully present in the moment.”

The gull sits perfectly still, watching
waiting for his moment
to swoop in for a chunk of bait
maybe steal the whole damn fish

“Just stop and look at this light” he says,
“Have you ever seen such dazzling, golden light?”
A trawler passes the port buoy, the last buoy
bound for open water and the fishing grounds

I’m stunned that you’re gone
here one moment, vanished the next
leaving only profound stillness
in all the spaces and moments you used to be

Light does have a unique quality
this time of the year
it all looks different,
so late in the game

There’s no two-minute warning, time out or final buzzer
nobody shouting “All aboard!” or “Last call!”
no checkered flag, termination notice
or summit marker

no musical score to signal the final act
or denouement before the curtain falls
no clanging bell, no real way of knowing
you’re passing the last buoy

Michael Gillan Maxwell is a writer and visual artist who lives in the Finger Lakes Region of New York state. His work has been featured in a number of journals and anthologies and he serves as associate flash fiction editor for JMWW Quarterly.  A teller of tales & singer of songs, he’s prone to random outbursts, may spontaneously combust or break into song at any moment and can be occasionally found ranting and raving on his website, Your Own Backyard

Bay Laurel  /  Volume 2, Issue 2  /  Summer 2013