I wake half in awe, half in worry.
The pressure of another body,
I think it might be a woman I loved years ago.
It’s a Great Dane, black coat reflecting
the orange light off cranes
in the harbor; she raises her head
and looks me over, wondering if
something needs attention.
When I settle back into the sheets, she curls into
herself. That’s how the night goes until
I rise with a hacking cough, a full bladder,
or an urge to stare at the harbor,
water black as blood in the moonlight, lapping at rocks
with the steady violence of ages.
I’ve started praying again; before I sleep,
I run through Our Fathers and Hail Marys like Vicodin.
One night without using the restroom, without
phlegm and blood stacking up in my lungs,
a night without dreams of dead fathers
driving Chevy pickups, or sleep walking hands
searching for old flames.
Instead I’m staring at cargo ships. I’m studying cruise
liners. Hollow containers, empty vessels.
I stare at a body of water, something between
a river and an ocean, a Great Dane beside me, her coat dark
as the harbor, eyes soft as the tide, ready to pull
me under like a memory.
Eric Loya is an adjunct instructor from Long Beach, California, where he earned a B.A. in English Lit. and then received an M.F.A. from the University of California, Riverside. His work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Pearl Magazine, Verdad Magazine, 34th Parallel and various other magazines. He has been a quarter-finalist for the NOLO Literary Award, a semi-finalist for The Trio House Prize, The Philip Levine Prize, and Crab Orchard First Book Prize.