Eating Key Lime Pie with a Comb

because it’s 6 a.m. and not even a plastic 
fork in this plasticized motel room, 
and I need all my strength to fish
this last day because a “front” has come 
down from the north and roughed up the surf.
Besides, fish are such crotchety critters: 
just because it’s November
it’s like they’ve put away their
golf clubs and moved indoors
for the winter.

But instead of sitting through sessions
of the conference I’m being paid to attend, 
life being short, I succumb again 
to an irresistible impulse (as the serial killer 
likes to plead) to indulge in unapproved
and unproductive piscatorial activities, 
a sort of addiction of this seaside casino 
where the neon is the arc-light orange 
and crime-scene yellow of dawn, 
or the pink side of a speckled trout 
pulled fresh from the surf,
or the red disk of after-image in the eyes 
of an angler who’s just cast 
her line toward the rising Sunday.

But this may be the last trip for this 
sprung chicken, who was no oil painting
to start with, more of a gouache whose colors 
have started to bleed, and the gulls, 
pipers, terns, and pelicans seem to be 
finding their own repast, and the lightening
east is straight from central casting.

No one lives forever, they say,
but who is this they anyway, always
cawing can’t, like the crow carping
at me as I walk past to the beach

already peopled with sleepy, stumbling, 
dawn-of-the-dead shellers.
Maybe it’s time to teach all of they
a lesson in living forever.

As soon, that is, as I finish this pie,
sucking every bit of the sweet-sour limes
from the fish-bone tines.

William Greenway


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