A bright-hot morning; me and Daddy; a fever-cloud of
glassy-eyed iridescent flies. Up ahead, invisible heat-devils
waver over our (brownbottle) boomerang of river; our
rank-pink curves of bait-bucket chicken-neck marinate, and
jellify, and stew.
We are walking the oyster-shell zig-path from my
blood-home to the water, three hundred and eleven
crunch-steps from back door to dock. This is Daddy’s day off,
our day for blue-crabbing. That neon hum you’re hearing?
—The colored jinks of flies.
They’re all here today, every local-grown species, every
flying insect with a taste for something spoiled: heavy-hipped
houseflies and hairy-chested horseflies, bloated bluebottles,
glossy greenbottles, dirtspeck-tiny screen-huggers too
high-strung to swat. One minute back, they were hovering
hairnet- (and halo-) style above my bald-headed daddy; now
they are down-diving, and landing, in dark clots and clusters,
on his eyebrows, neck-bones, knees.
Along in here, our switchback crumbles down to
shell-shards and powder.
His breath comes out vinegary when he turns.
Now he’s the stagger-legged man, sun-squinting facing
me so his eyes draw tight and Japanese like Mama’s. He is
fishing through the fly-fog for my name.
Romey-boy . . . he tries saying, slow-slurring it long, long,
until the word-sound goes strange in the air and bends back
on itself, like a shell-road or a river.
Ninety-nine. Ninety-eight. Ninety-seven. The sand-bar
has shown up (and shone) and I’m home-headed; that’s my
crab-net, and my lunch-bag, and my yellow fly-blown
bucket, dragging there behind me like a ruined foot.