St. Augustine at Night

by Michelle Quick

At the heart of a city

that has learned to wear its ruins

on purpose, a drawbridge grants passage

to shapes intent on anchor or retreat.

An endangered right whale moans and

thumps and cries in this ocean

between us, announcing a desire

to not be alone, no—

to be with another of its kind.

I think of a friend who writes three

love poems a day and never edits, no—

never apologizes for the wanting.

I feel a loss on the way.

You’ll either stop it or deliver it.

Time will be marked

and I’ll learn to say that was before

as a way of explaining why

I am now different.

The determined red lights flash

and once more arms outstretch

toward the halved moon.

The water no longer vibrates with need.

It is still and silent and I say into it please

don’t go. Stay.

Michelle Quick is a sous chef and teacher in southwest Missouri. She is working toward her MFA at University of Nebraska Omaha, where she was the recent recipient of an Academy of American Poets prize. You can find her words in The Laurel Review, Camas, and elsewhere.

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October 2019

© 2020 by The Esthetic Apostle