KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 6: Fall 2016
Haibun Story: 453 words

For a Period of Time

by Glenn G. Coats

a light clicks on
in the coffee shop
silent boats

The first owner uses the skiff for clamming, heads out when the tide is low, anchors in a shallow cove, steps in then uses his feet to feel for clams. The man fills a bushel basket then dumps the clams in the boat where they crack like pool balls. He works halfway through the incoming tide then turns the skiff toward home. “Your feet are cut to pieces,” his wife says as her husband hobbles across the floor.

Over time, the original owner puts on high boots; uses a basket rake to shake clams loose from mud and sand. He labors until his back and arms can’t push or pull; drags the heavy boat onto the shore, then walks through his door twisted like a pretzel. “You’re not a kid anymore,” his wife says. “Enough is enough.”

For a decade, the boat lies flipped over between some pines. It turns green. Spring rains pound the hull like the sea and winter snows bury it like a hill. The owner of the boat gives it away.

all day clouds
light from the mast
of a shrimp boat

The young man scrubs the rowboat back to white, decides to name it after one of his cats. He uses the skiff only on fresh-water lakes where fishermen aren’t accustomed to seeing a clam boat. The young man stands on a wooden seat, lets the wind push the boat through coves where he casts into tree shadows for bass and northern pike. At night, the skiff is tied to a dock where it rocks in the moonlight.

Years go by and the second owner moves far away from the chain of lakes where his skiff is moored. Not knowing if he will return, the young man signs it over to his father who uses it to fish around islands and back-waters where tree stumps lie submerged just beneath the surface.

summer stars
fine bones vanish
in the sand

The boy’s father no longer uses the skiff for fishing as it is too heavy for him to launch. He keeps it on a trailer, covers it with thick plastic. When the tarp tears and flaps like a worn sail, he puts on a new one. Every few years, the third owner sands the wooden seats and dresses them with teak oil. He scrubs mildew from the hull. The boat is ready to launch should someone long to drift through the day and into the darkness for those moments when the fish are hungry.

call of a loon—
how lonely they are
empty cabins

creak of ice
winter breaks the last
of the cattails


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