The harbour is a flat rock,
the ocean cloaked in fog.
I stand alone on the dock,
drinking coffee, watching
tugboats skim the surface,
disappear on the horizon.
I wonder who knows I am here.
I wonder who cares.
I can almost hear the Reversing Falls—
Saint John River and Bay of Fundy
converging in the gorge,
white-water whirlpools whipping.
A wharf rat emerges
as if from under a rock.
I sweep the cold gray floor
of the shop, the air still wet
with fog, thick and heavy
as the fat brown rat.
It stares at me for a while,
as if preparing to speak.
Its black eyes like bowling balls,
my skinny white body the last pin.
When the fog lifts, hours later,
I think of the wharf rat disappearing,
its claws dragging like knuckles
against the earth, as it burrows
back into the deep dark channel
from which it came.
About the Poet
Brandon McQuade is the founding editor of Duck Head Journal. His debut chapbook, Bleeding Heart was published by Kelsay Books (2021) and is available on Amazon. His debut collection, Mango Seed, is forthcoming with Scurfpea Publishing. He lives in Gillette, Wyoming with his wife, Jacqlyn and their children.
For the first time in nearly five years, Vita Brevis is closed for submission. Read the full story here.