David Salner

Slack Tide, Massey’s Landing, David Salner

Below me, around the pilings, in brine-slaked air
so thick I taste the salt, in gray fog,
as I luff clumsily between the grays of sky and bay—
the inlet streams with all the strength
of seven seas, tugs at my two-ounce sinker
as I loosen line. A gust across the Landing
almost takes my hat, after which my line goes slack.
The troubled seas that rule the inlet
all relent, as if a hand upon the water calmed
the depths, the haul and tow of it.
I lay my rod upon the railing, rest elbows
on the wood, pitted by years of rain,
wind-kerfed. A cormorant stalls overhead,
a charcoal smudge upon a leaden sky,
surveying the length and breadth of this
new stillness, searching for movement
in the silence, a hint would be a feast. The lull
persists, reminding me of when I lie beside
my wife, and she has just breathed out—I listen
as each second swells into the slow time
of the universe—then finally her breath again.
And to think of all that must be happening
in this moment, from Winnipeg to Singapore,
but not here, where the flow of time
has ceased to buffet me, this angler in a trance
above it all, the laughter of the world,
laughter and horror, in a spell cast by the moon.
Then, movement, something twitches
in a marsh across the inlet, a heron nods, lifts
a leg stiff as a stalk, scans the shallows,
where the surface seems to dance with hidden
tension, ripple with an underlying force—
I sense the pressure all around me, swelling
until the channel brims and flows
and the new tide is on us.

David Salner has worked as iron ore miner, steelworker, machinist, and longshoreman. He has a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa. His writing appears in recent issues of Threepenny Review, Ploughshares, Salmagundi, Prairie Schooner, and North American Review. His third book is Blue Morning Light (2016, Pond Road Press) and his fourth, From House to House, will be printed by Broadstone Media in 2019. He is working on a novel about the lives of the sandhogs who built the Holland Tunnel. To read more by this author: "Manhattan Seasons," The Evolving City Issue, Vol. 8:4, Fall 2007.