Breakfast at Mucko's - Nick Pearce

I remember Ray’s face, that summer
morning on the island, all of us
seedy I think from new year’s the
night before, everyone on auto groove
and pale cloud over the mainland

miles away, ages ago now, the oily
diner hidden away in the shadows
behind him as he strolled a man
complete, belly first, skinny smile
fat like the sun, satisfied, replete

down the path towards the road as
we drove slowly past, pulled down
windows, stopped and called out where
you been? and he replies chin shining 
breakfast at mucko’s, with a face full

of a thousand stories and all the time
in the world to tell them… and if you were
to see him outside mucko’s today, one of
the stories he might just tell you could be
about me, and the dip in the sea I took, with

my kids, later that new year and told back 
to him on our deck at surfdale one warm
evening, after he’d said something to
me, something chilling, something very
unlike breakfast at mucko’s, that

story… that particular day, a dull hot after
noon I and my three, none older than nine,
had gone down to the beach, pulled
out the inflatable and paddled out into
the deep, they sat inside as I swam

behind, tapping them along to the mussel
rocks right out in the bay, smooth
on the water, breezing, me dreaming
in the cool of what feast we might find and
then, in liquid slow motion, my mind turned

to scenes from Jaws and visions of sharks
in the shadows beneath me, finding
me, unfleshing me in front of the kids in
a single moment of horror, gore on
the water, white meat bled out and

three stunned, ruined young souls a
drift in that red-black plastic balloon
of a boat waiting for someone to
see them, bring them in, too shocked
even to cry… smart move I think, that kind of

mind-game, laughing to myself, at myself, as I reach
the rocks and get out, find nothing to excite me
in the end, nothing to bring back for evening
supper and feeling tired from the swim, wind
getting up, finally coax the boat back

to shore as clouds begin to darken the
sky and the water around us… and so it
was later with night coming on, me and
Ray by the bar-be-que, him chewing on
one of my special rare steaks, crimson

on his teeth, and me with the cool skinned 
memory of that swim in my mind he says, between
mouthfuls… see a couple of guys caught a 
shark this afternoon, next bay round… yeah
a big one… twelve foot mako a‘parently.

Contributor's Note

Born in Somerset, raised in NZ. Professional career as an analyst, manager and business improvement specialist in various organisations. Passions: football, baseball, pastel painting, poetry... including collecting 20th century first editions. Influences Larkin, Lowell (R), Hughes, Armitage, Wantling, Eliot, Wordsworth, Gunn, Stevens and others.


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