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Tidewater

It's not a place I particularly want to remember, but since you're curious about it, I'll say it was a stretch of water about a half mile across at highest tide, a narrow channel at low, and I lived there two years too long.

The house was on the east shore, a battered shack with a cedar roof you could see through on a dry summer day. Out back was a deck built on pilings into the bay. I kept a line in the water on a bamboo pole nailed to the railing, to bring a surprise supper once in awhile. At low tide the line was a pendulum, hooking airfish.

The place was all one room. Rough sawn walls, a deep brown even though the exterior faded years ago to neutral grey. In summers the walls still oozed pitch and filled the place with a dry, sweet smell. If you put your fingertips to the wood they came away smelling musty and foreign. You could still see the saw marks on the boards.

Sometimes, when I leave a place, and may be coming back, and may not be, it locks into my memory as though it will always exist, just like that, just as I left it. That's how I remember that day, the window open, the curtain moving in the breeze off the bay. A starched blouse waving on a line strung between the house and a shore pine. A blouse like your blouse, but stark white, bleached to the bone.

Story by:

John Barkus

19 September 2012