Tad Wojnicki
Moan Trail

In Monterey, or "Moan Trail," as some jokers say it, I hear moans of seals at Fisherman's Wharf. Living close, they seem outside the wall. Some nights, about midnight, they get so loud I can't sleep. I bolt out of bed and use the recreational trail to get there as the fishing boats steal out into the dark. I inhale the brine, the fish, and the diesel, watching the boats like Christmas trees without the gifts.

wharf wind--
oyster shells
pried open

squatty boats
garland bulbs
what if fish spoke?

Under the public deck, the wharf has a stinky, barnacled service deck, accessible only to emergency crews, and the seals lie there, wooing the salts to throw them fish. The animals roll in dung, their voices full of love--yelps of kicked curs, groans of kneaded muscles, whimpers of delight, snickers of pleasure. They cuddle, wrapping necks, or they knock each other off the deck. The brine washes gaping wounds. Each cackle, sigh, and moan drives me nuts. Often, I hear my lover coming, making me moan, too. I cringe at the show, yet I stay. Neighbors are drawn to bedroom voices.

after moaning
listening to
the heartbeat

mist soaks me
did it think
I was on fire?

Sometimes I hang out till morning, shunning my bed. "Why did she leave me?" I puff into the air. Falling off my feet, I fail to quit. I watch the surf hug the barnacled pillars. I thud the empty deck, full of moans, waiting for the boats. What do I expect them to bring? Other life?

When I finally head for the Squid Row Cafe, the other, deep life already burdens the boards, hugged in crushed ice: blushing crabs, thigh-sized bonitos, every rainbowing thing. The wharf grows gray with fish scales.

fish market
in cod's eye
sun rises

drizzly dawn
moans fade
into idle chat