Red Sky Morning
Heads bob up in the waiting room, like ground squirrels from their burrows, eyes seeking the next turn with the doctor. I am thumbing through a magazine and find a picture of The Gulf Stream, a painting by Winslow Homer, that I saw for the first time as a boy: the artist’s rendering still wets the shivering nape of my neck, I feel the spume in the air, and know the fear on the hopeless face of the shipwrecked castaway. His boat dismasted, sharks breach the broken waves of a relentless ocean; rescuers sail away. I drop into a daydream: my grandfather’s story about a fishing trip off the Baja coast. His party boat motoring back to the harbor ahead of a storm; engine seized and all power lost. The lifeless vessel left drifting onto a rocky reef. I imagine the fishermen baited on their own hooks, the crew helpless. They use broken planks to make crude gangways; wreck to reef to sandy beach. In the horizontal rain, everyone part of the storm waiting for daylight. I can still hear his voice on an old news-broadcast recording of an interview playing at 78 rpm: one side his story of the shipwreck, the other blank, as if time ran out.
Scott Hicks has work published in Contemporary Haibun Online, Road Not Taken, Poetry Quarterly, Three Line Poetry, Modern Haiku, Shot Glass, Liquid Imagination, and Down in the Dirt. He came to poetry through therapy and lives in Fresno, California.