Pawley’s Island as a Portrait of My Mother’s Dying

by | Aug 12, 2013 | Poetry



Today sunlight is a damp thing,

skin peeled back from scalloped waves.


The Atlantic bares its teeth

as tide cowers beneath mussel-scrimmed sand,

bits of fractured opal showing in the jawline.


From beneath the steel blue awning

we can hear the pier’s timbers mewl with each heave

as the structure leans from light.


It is dusk. She won’t see another summer.


When I shuffle her to the beach house,

even the sky’s tired omens persist:


Signal flares flicker into light,

expose vees of seagulls against the sky’s drop-cloth.

They fizzle for a moment,


then snuff out like sparks in oil.







Photo by Andy

About The Author

Jonathan Travelstead

Jonathan Travelstead served in the Air Force National Guard for six years as a firefighter and currently works as a fulltime firefighter for the city of Murphysboro. Having finished his MFA at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, when not on duty, he backpacks twice each year in Central America and Europe, and works on an old dirt-bike he hopes will get him to Peru in December.