They sit or stand patiently
on the jetty, a concrete path
jutting out into the ocean.
The old timers have two
lines out, bait bucket
sitting in the bicycle-wheeled
cart parked on the edge
of the jetty’s bouldered margin.
You don’t ask what they’ve
caught, that would be obvious,
and you know they are here for
the act of fishing, and the catch
is that there never is
the expectation of one.
She is a small woman
dressed in white, save for black
platform slingback pumps
and cherry red eyeglass frames.
She hunches forward in her seat
seeming as though she might collapse,
pouring over tables and graphs –
biochemical research papers.
You measure the depth of her attention
by the frequency with which she pulls
single strands of hair from her banded ponytail,
strokes them gently, then, as if noticing they
have gone astray, tries to tuck them back in.
She pauses this ritual only to annotate
the paper’s margins in mechanical pencil
in a small, cramped hand, barely legible.
You know she has reached the paper’s conclusion
when she strokes that soft space
between those in upper lip
as though a teenage boy hoping
one day soon to grow a mustache.
Horizons are the thing
we have they greatest trouble with.
They are omnipresent, immutable
and yet move at our approach.
They are at once inviting
and fear inducing, though now
we are largely convinced they
do not mark the edge of a precipice
over which we would catapult
into some endless abyss
crossing their margin.
As we age we are allowed nearer
and they see less foreboding
though we struggle to keep eyes open
knowing that too soon enough
we will close them finally
and step across into the abyss.
In our small world
night and day are separated
by dreams that escape
just beyond our consciousness.
We search for deeper meaning
even as we are certain
they will leave us as they have
long before we could remember.
That is the trouble with margins,
they ebb and flow without warning,
their arrivals and departures
unannounced, so listen carefully
and embrace the silence.