The wind off the water
down to the corner where
the Gray Dolphin stands.
The owner shakes a broom at two cats,
one large, white,
one small, brown.
Their fracas started inside her store.
they take it to the street.
Fur flies, looks like white feathers.
Finally they separate.
The white one runs.
The brown one cowers underneath a car.
Across the street two black ducks
mate on the roof of another car.
The car’s owner snaps a picture.
A woman says, A duck laid an egg
in front of one store.
Another duck joins the ritual
in the sun on Front Street.
At Front Porch Pottery, shelves display
clay vessels made by thirty artisans.
Styles and colors are various sizes,
depending on their use. I choose
a small blue holder
with a tiny dragonfly.
The smooth dark shine of the floor
invites me to walk around,
down one aisle,
through a doorway
to the other room,
and into a back room where I have never been.
A chilly breeze from the White Oak River
moves throughout the store.
Ten years ago, wind chimes rang inside
The Silver Thimble, as it was called,
carried Irish folksongs
to the sidewalk.
Once I bought a copper bracelet there,
and a pewter English Rose pin.
In 1930 the place had been a fishing
shack, where Jim Canady dragged
his daily catch from the water
and through the back door.
He lived and slept in those back rooms.
One evening in 1951 he fell off
a pier and drowned.
Now, not even a faint fishy smell
inside the wooden structure.
A picture of Jim still hangs upon the wall
At Captain Charlie’s
The sign out front says OPEN.
Red letters on the dinner menu board:
salmon, Maryland crabcakes,
hot crab dip, homemade dessert.
Still daylight, I sit by the window
where Van Meer’s painting
of a sea captain hangs.
On Front Street is a boutique,
formerly a historical house.
Its green and yellow striped awning
flaps frantically up and down in the breeze.
Next to that, Tidewater Gallery, closed.
Cars and trucks hurry over the bridge,
heading east to the Outer Banks.
Instead of the expected jazz,
there is Mamas and the Papas’
I order fried flounder.
White lights from four ceiling chandeliers
reflect in the windowpanes, appear multiplied.
At the table behind me, a man greets friends.
How’s South Carolina? he asks,
informs them of a line of thunderstorms
headed north towards Fayetteville.
On the big-screen TV in the next room
a coastal weather map warns of tornadoes.
Cats, Inside and Out
Two concrete steps lead up to
Russell’s Olde Tyme Shoppe,
where crafts of all types are sold,
including furry cat doorstops.
Ginger Russell, resident cat, appears,
her tiny eyes peering from her
plump, Siamese body.
Her owner says she follows people she likes.
Ginger has a slight limp from the night
before, when the white tomcat
from down the street broke in
and attacked her.
Her black, furry toy mouse sits idle
on the rug in front of the counter.
She darts about, chewing on leaves
of potted plants, strews them on the floor.
She grabs the soft toy at the end
of a long plastic rod.
The owner vows she will trap the feral cat
tonight, have him neutered and vaccinated,
hangs a CLOSED sign on the door.