The ships at rest out there, so grey and silent now, rise and fall with the rhythm of her breath in measure of the shift and swell of tide.
She is at rest, the night is free. She walks upon the barbican: old stones against the sea. With her new coat against the evening wind, she does not lie for lonely men tonight. The crisp work sheets are cold or lie beneath the warmth of yet another woman’s work.
She knows something of knots and marlin spikes, the luck untangled from a sheepshank, and the exchange of coins for masquerades of love devoted for an hour or two.
She knows she could have been a dripping girl who died in agony from rip and tear, like broken crates of fruit: all considered remuneration due, for work makes men, for avarice burns the outstretched knee and muddied hems of passion’s charity.
Sometimes she lies in the bed like a fine china doll and thinks behind the porcelain there’s nothing at the core but wheels and twine.
Sometimes love comes like a gracile cat: velvet, warm, silent and insubstantial. It mostly sleeps and when it hunts it is elsewhere. She thinks of that one’s eyes, the other’s laugh, and the Captain, whose hands are different; his touch sails out beyond her artifice.
More often now, she finds herself at work within her clothes. She mends, she cleans, she runs errands for the younger ones. She said once “I will know when the time has come to leave and I will find some man, (a carpenter crosses her mind with this memory) who also sells his work, and so will understand.”
She’s put some money by and so she smiles, at the warmth and cost of her embrace. She lets the evening flow around her. She allows the season of Fall to touch her. Her price? The red sunset.
The wool of her coat is lined with silk the color of the sky.