long john silver’s
Once again at the Long John Silver’s of 1988
the rope-slung walkway seems to sway under my feet
as I look up at the Cape Cod with its steepled roof,
trimmed in yellow, and lean my whole weight
to the wrought-iron sword that serves as a door handle.
At the counter I order a fish filet
served in a folded paper Treasure Chest with
a handful of fries to hide the Secret Compartment,
hold the hush puppies, corn cob on the side,
carry the blue plastic tray with care to a booth
paneled in the mahogany of an officer’s quarters,
then sit on a bench vinyled like a nautical flag.
If you’re wondering why we’re here it’s because
here, nobody is dead yet. The batter is always
fresh and salted and fluffy with club soda,
my teeth cutting a smile into the Icelandic cod,
and perhaps I will go back to order a chicken plank
or a tray of crunchies swept from the fryer’s belly,
which they will usually give me for free.
When I look back on this life, I want
to be the person stubborn enough to found a chain
of Seafood Shoppes in Lexington, Kentucky,
five hundred miles from any ocean,
named for a character in a Scottish novel.
I want to admit I’m doubled over and howling,
yet reach up to ring the Captain’s Bell on my way out.
Read Sandra Beasley’s “Long John Silver’s” in the print edition of The Arkansas International 5.
Sandra Beasley is the author of Count the Waves, I Was the Jukebox (winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize), Theories of Falling (winner of the New Issues Poetry Prize), and Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life, a memoir about living with disability. She lives in Washington, DC, and teaches with the University of Tampa low-residency MFA program.