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.