Custodians, Sue Goyette

Custodians

The night waded into the ocean. Up to its waist, it looked back to us
on shore. Its look was morose and someone said: why is it going out
so far? One of us stood and waved.

Its shoulders drooped as if carrying the stones it had collected all day
back into the water, as if carrying the weight of the world. None of us
saw it actually go under. We were

asked later, pressed into remembering. We’d been drinking. There had
been an argument about who actually said what. It’s like you neglected
your own child, someone said,

thumping his fist. I thought it was a moose, someone finally
confessed. It moved like a moose, with those long strides, head and
shoulders above caring about any of us.

Someone else had been reminded of her father, it had the same gait of
him leaving the house for the office. Who am I, someone else said,
who am I to stop anyone from doing

what they want to do? Once it was in the water, it seeped into
everything. The pines and spruce at the edge of the inlet, the cabin on
the other side of the dunes. The harbour

further along the shore was a rebellion of small-fisted lights. We lit a
fire and waited for it to wade back out. Someone walked the water’s
edge with a flashlight. We might have

better luck, someone said, if we even knew what to call it.

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