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Across Kachemak Bay
black mountains rise like judgment
towering above the inlet, black
streaked with snow. Black,
white. Nothing in between.

When suddenly like a phantom
floating across the water,
a fishing boat chugs past, and there
we are again, chugging out of Freeport
with Captain Charlie. Little family
bundled up against the cold.

And it must be close to noon
for there's Mother doling out
the egg-salad sandwiches loaded
with lettuce for health and green
good fortune. The bay too, a green
bounty crowned by white flashes
of gulls skimming low over the stern
to eye what the wake churned up.
And look, there at the rail, chumming
for fish, that's my father, roaring
his smutty songs with mother laughing
because they were in the open air
and free to let themselves be—Oh
dare I say it—happy. What difference
if the fluke or flounder weren't biting,
for wasn't it fluke enough their being
at peace for just this once? On the scales
of judgment, shouldn't that day—snatched
from the angry current of the rest—count?
Add up to something? That day when the gulls
weighed in, balancing the light on their wings.

Alice Friman

Prairie Schooner

Summer 2017

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