After a Shift at the Catch of the Day

End of night’s work,
I walk the boards,
descend to beach.
Take off my shoes,
stretch my toes,
think of fall.

I slip my hand
into the pocket
of my waitress skirt,
black nylon, slick as eel skin,
for the pack of Kools
my last table left behind
with the dirty plates,
emptied Heinekens,
paltry tip.

I kneel in cool sand,
late, black August night,
slender curve of moon,
sound of waves,
and light a cigarette,
for the first time.

The mint stabs
like winter air to the lungs,
but the red ember
seems to me
like a ring on my finger,
or the period
at the end of the last sentence
of a long story. Nancy Hickman grew up on a farm in southern Delaware, came to Philadelphia for college, and has been here ever since. She’s worked as a teacher, book store manager, hospice case manager, and grief counselor. Presently, she is a parish secretary and teaches English to non-native speakers. She writes when she can.

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