c a d i l l a c i s l a n d
S E T H A B R A M S O N
Main Street runs one way;
rubber-necking tourists steer silver Volvos
with their index fingers, and packed like eggs
into leather appointments, shriek at each new wonder.
The street urchins are children of musicians,
they plod down loft stairs into the street and play
with crushed shells on the corner. Outside
Andy's Barber Shop-electric candycane on display-
sits a plastic dinosaur, purple, roughly stroller-height.
Andy is calculating taxes behind his soft features;
tourism must not become axiomatic, says
"The Guide to Small Businesses," a saddle-stapled bible
Andy hides behind the lollipops in his metal cabinet.
As it says, "Make tourists stop; your business must be unavoidable."
Andy has seen Barney prancing through a TV schoolroom;
in the past six months his business has doubled.
The eastern neighborhoods are a child's playroom,
the sea breeze muffles the smell of diapers, coarse, laughable.
These are the twenty-something worshippers of Jimmy Buffet,
Parrotheads whose homes, colored boxes jutting and toppling out
into the street, wheeze clotheslines and pink flamingos.
The sandy-haired Waldrop kids smear salty liquor over freckles as they make
margaritas for the folks-Dad is Pop, second Mom is Cindy-
both Polo-clad entrepreneurial ex-New Yorkers, creaking in the hammock,
lazy thumbs stroking black cell phones.
The children, clad in simple tones, peach shirts, avocado shorts,
mix drinks like cheery automatons-this is quality time
with Pop, and besides bedtime gets pushed to midnight in the summer.
Summer is slender, wispy, dizzying, from the cracked white paint
of the chair swing down to the army of frogs that have overrun
the field beyond the McCallister's horse fence. Long after dark,
the Waldrop young join the others to play hide and seek among the dunes,
whispering beneath the music of conspiring crickets;
all of the children can spot Cassiopeia.
They know their zodiac signs, read
horoscopes to Cindy each morning before she's off to the tennis club.
Life here is Casablanca run backwards, from the rain and mire
shuffling absurdly back to tequila and enthusiastic pianos,
fans whirling in a fevered dance and stone walls warm at mid-day.
Slowing then, to capture the moments before;
fronds fluorescent and saturated as the sun spills into the bay,
bike bells chiming as the stock quotes come in from the mainland,
Slapping down-kerthunk!-onto braided cocoa welcome mats
riddled with dandelion bits.
House, fence, car, mailbox, earth tones slipping to land
and down the hot concrete paths which meander and rise, slope and dive
to linen picnic sheets arrayed like checkers on the beach.
Freeze the frame and laughter seems imminent;
the locals say Cadillac Island is strictly causal--
frozen waffles from the general store
are simply Belgians waiting to explode into being.