Portpatrick Harbor
Jeffrey C. Alfier

Portpatrick Harbor

Outside for a smoke, the coast guardsman
leans back against the station house,
wishes himself returned to footfall-flooded
cities, Inverness or Dundee. He watches
a late fisherman bend to his creels, to his catch
of velvet and green crabs, and thinks of divers
who'll set out tomorrow to placate ghosts
of century-old shipwrecks, while trawlers
and ferries etch their departures in bow waves.

At the other end of the harbor's narrow inlet,
children laugh, climb castoff blocks of stone
beside the shuttered lighthouse. On a quayside
bench, an old man's eyes fill with the trance
of passing shorebirds, their damp cries threading
the sky buffed by a few late clouds. Wind rises
as a young woman touches his shoulder.
A lock of hair falls from her bright ribbon.

Jeffrey C. Alfier

is the winner of the 2014 Kithara Book Prize for his poetry collection Idyll for a Vanishing River (Glass Lyre Press, 2013). He is also the author of The Wolf Yearling (Silver Birch Press) and The Storm Petrel: Poems of Ireland (Grayson Books, forthcoming). His recent work has appeared in Spoon River Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, and Tulane Review.