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Marielle’s White Shirt
by Patrick Carrington

They saw the neon palm, heard
salt air whisper a gypsy’s promise
to tame their nightmares, shrivel
the bad dreams small.

Five for foreign-eye crystal
to read their wrinkled scars, ten
for tea leaves or tarot. The future
was cheap, draped in Persian print
and rhinestone, but prophesy
glittered from her like diamonds.

For butter and eggs, she stepped
from trailers of vagabonds into summer
sun, from campfires where guitars play,
where tomorrow is serenaded and sold
to anyone willing to pay for its lies.

But autumns on the boardwalk
were different, all plywood and time.
In a white shirt, she walked by the sea
that was more her father
than the one she never knew.

Always, she went to the clutch
of the water, its old eyes, knowing
the arms and stares of other men
were tricks of her own dishonest craft.

Even when the sea gave her nothing,
deserted with ease and no word
of farewell, she stayed. Because
she could not abandon the storm
that created her, or a love
as pure as her fallen cloth.

(first appeared in The Neovictorian/Cochlea)

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