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POE :RV I BY ALAN ALTIMONT FISH TALE for Barbara and John Filippidis If, as you walk the beach west of the seawall, through the archipelago of shattered warehouses, the scuttled fleet of dreamboat Fords and Chevies shoring up this neglected end of the island, and into whiffs of unseen honeysuckle abrupt as gulls’ high laughter at the wind that grudges them small headway if you find there a pink jelly sandal netted in scab-red seaweed, gaudy among conch shards, beer bottle caps, and gobbets of tar; if there you see our little girl’s sandal in the untold haul of sand dollars quartered like doubloons and rough-cheeked oysters forever done with mothering their long gone pearls, pass by for other booty, leave it an unmatched treasure, her first lost possession. Leave it, for she did not cry when the sand tugged it off her foot, and it was handed from wave to wave, considered as the world considers us and ours, towed under and tucked away. And leave to fairy tales the faith that what we’ve lost always returns in the hands of a prince who’s combed his sea-wracked kingdom just for us. Leave it, for when we told our girl a fish might fit her sandal on his tail and strut away on his own vacation, her sweet laugh flew off in the beaks of the gritty wind. HOMETOWN SKYLINE They agree the latest monstrosity would make an excellent hard target, if this were a place where important things happen. She says it looks like a great horned owl with its spires and faux-clockface eyes. A cuttlefish, he says, that’s just sucked the meat from the moon and let it sink back into the deep trench of night, or a moa with a Mohawk, radiating the hopeless squares hunched at its feet with cool. Don’t be so pretentious, she says, it’s obviously an owl. No, you’re wrong, he says, and it’s ugly live with it. I do, she says. ALAN ALTIMONT lives in Austin with his wife Dee and daughter Clementina. He is on the English faculty at St. Edward’s University. Naomi Shihab Nye FEBRUARY 22, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 25