Children of the Moon, Chapter 15: Gulf Stream

Laurel slept submerged in a dream:
walking on a country road, sensing a presence
she glanced at the sky: an eagle flew above her
and whenever she turned, the eagle followed,
red darting tongue and yellow eyes seeking

In the distance she saw a small town on a knoll,
but in the field before her, there was debris:
new homes in ruins; where did this devastation
come from? And she mused, one of these homes
might be her own

A group of people approached her;
she began to raise her hand to greet them,
when she noticed they were brandishing guns
and clubs; she ran into a damaged home
and hid behind a broken wall

The eagle had grown huge, but the mob
seemed not to see it, not until its shadow
plunged the area into darkness;
she watched as the eagle dropped straight down,
talons outstretched, eyes like lasers

At the last instant the mob saw the eagle
and scattered in all directions;
still Laurel lingered in her hiding place,
while the eagle flew high again to circle the field
and the town, wheeling around and around

From her place of refuge, she watched in wonder:
the eagle was not leaving or leading her,
but instead waiting for her to decide
where she would go, and then follow
not to harm but to protect her

Will was twisting in his sleep,
waking with the worry:
I don’t know who I am, and not wanting
to hurt anyone, I’ve left them alone
and hurt them more.

He signed on to a fishing boat,
and at Pompano helped the crew
stock up on fresh vegetables,
sweet potato pies
and Indian River oranges

Riding the Gulf Stream, the trawler swept past
Cape Canaveral’s silent silver buildings,
and the jutting docks at Jacksonville

Evening came, and channel bells tolled;
dozing, a thought jarred him:
I want the truth, no matter what.

Off the coast of Georgia he fell asleep
dreaming down, down beneath the ship
into the reaches of the sea
where shadows breathed
and surf echoed

The ocean’s roar in a huge shell of coastline
and the larger shell, bell, of the sky,
woke him, filling every pore of his body
with alarm and fascination,
kick-starting survival mode

On deck through slashing rain
and great rolling shadows,
he saw in the darkness a darker shape
outlined by a row of seesawing lights,
and men in the waves like gloves flung down

In the night they were all around
as Will clambered into a lifeboat:
Will they drown, will they all be carried away?

Will and others reached out to help
a fortunate man into the only lifeboat;
a fist of a wave knocked Will overboard
and carried him willy-nilly
into the body of another man

Will held the wounded sailor,
cradling his head in the rollicking surf,
swimming at cross purposes to the sea

Glistening pummeled by wind and waves,
he kept the man in his grip, as ghosts
hovered, seahorses teeming in the rain

Moonlight flowered when the storm
flew away; Will thought: I am blind and I see;
I am lost and found, and lost and found again.

A light spun and a beam pierced him
and he felt a swift grating on his skin,
the hard husk of the shore;
his breath shallow and labored,
he carried the fisherman to the beach

First responders rushed up to take the man,
still breathing, still alive; and Will rested
in the familiar hand of land

Amid the shouts of rescuers,
his brother’s image surfaced:
How many people might my brother have saved?
How many been buoyed by his kindness
and his courage?

Will rose to his feet to help survivors
from the tumultuous surf, until drenched
and shivering, he collapsed on the shore

Lost and found; and the thought that once sank
into the Everglades’ outcast womb came to him
on the other side of the whirl, world of his rage:
In spite of all that I have lost, and never will regain,
my life can be of value to myself and others.

To read The Prologue, click here.

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