Max McDonough

The bay-tide at dusk is a tired muscle.
My little brother and I sword-fight

wiffleball bats in the front yard. On the porch,
our uncles drink and smoke and don’t

speak. They’ve been watching the marsh—
tar-black mud, skeletal reeds stuck

in the dropping bank slope. Our father
is up there too, watching, chalked yellow eyes

like an egret’s, lids pinned open as with sleep-
deprivation, the strained pupils hollowing

deeper. He’s waiting for any small shift
in the saltgrass: wind-drag, a splash, turtle’s head

breaking for air.

Max McDonough's essays and poetry have appeared in The New York Times, T Magazine, Best New Poets, Food52, AGNI, and elsewhere. You can find him online at maxmcdonough.org.

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