The manatees hide just below the surface sticking up their heads every few minutes, for a breath or to thrill the tourists who watch intently, because it is a thing to do in this part of Florida in winter.
The restaurants in the harbor don’t mind, it draws a crowd and takes pressure off the kitchen, for people waiting for sea mammals do not grow impatient like those waiting for just burgers or an order of fried clams with a side of fries.
The manatees will never understand humans, why they queue up in the sun to eat animals, when the sea provides a free feast for herbivores if you are only willing to immerse yourself in the search for a meal.
It is all to often debated what sets humans apart the other species, and that will not be agreed any time soon (which a cynic would note is one such thing itself).
Freud would claim it is only our ego, our sense of self, which may explain why people are so capable of being self- ish, and I suspect he was certain he was wholly correct but I would give him only partial credit.
It is far simpler than that: record your voice, record a Sandhill crane and play them back and I assure you that you will say you sound nothing like what the recorder heard while the crane will nervously look all around for his unseen kin.
Increasingly few can remember the time when making a home movie was an event unto itself, when you didn’t strap the camera to handlebars, helmet, dashboard or body, but you hand-carried the damn thing weighing a pound or two, you stuffed it with film which you sent off to the lab to have developed, hoping your story would appear in the returning envelope. You threaded the film onto the sprockets, turned on the motor and lamp and watched expectantly as images always a bit under-or over-exposed moved a bit jokingly across the screen. There was nothing to upload, you knew the image would fade over time, unless the projector grew cranky or jammed and you watched your memories quite literally melt on the screen, and the only numbers that mattered weren’t megapixels and gigabytes but millimeters, 8 for most, 16 for the wealthy.
We bow our heads and utter words not to the cicada speaking through a spring night or the beetle crawling slowly across the leaf searching for the edge. We bid the crow silent, the cat mewling his hunger, just to crawl under a porch awaiting morning, the child to sleep. The stream flows slowly by, carrying a blade of grass and the early fallen leaf.
Between now and then, between yesterday to and today, between night and day, between birth and death, between good and evil, between heaven and hell, between light and dark, between joy and sadness, our lives occur and we are so seldom there to see it happen, lost in dreams of what never will be, never was.
Two men, having reached
an indeterminate age, sit on old chairs
outside the small town grocery, it’s
neon beer sign half, flickering, around
the corner from the bank on main street.
One, plaid shirt tucked in coveralls,
one bib strap unbuckled, leans back,
takes a turn on his long neck, his cane
propped against his leg, thankful for the rest.
The other, denim shirt bleached in spots,
threadbare in others, pours the remains
of a bag of potato chips into the plastic bowl
resting atop the empty 50 gallon drum that is
at this moment a table, later a platform
for the checkerboard both are not
drunk or bored enough to bring out.
He opens a beer on the edge of the drum
and both look up smiling at the clearing sky
and a Saturday afternoon in the
only America they have ever known.