Al Ortolani, Swamp Tour

Al Ortolani
Swamp Tour

A girl has opened a can of black olives.
She wears them on the tips of her fingers
like mermaid’s purses. She slides them one
by one into her mouth. They are better
than promises, the juice on each fingernail
cool and salty. Between hammocks,
sawgrass sways against the gunnels.
A ray, more shadow than light,
races below them towards the open sea.
Pelicans perch in the high branches
of the mangroves, nonchalant, self-absorbed.
The girl pries up the olive lid. She licks
her fingers, shoves them in like spears.


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