The Cigarette Wheel: Seaside Heights, New Jersey, 1942
For my mother
At pier’s end the coaster’s warped spine silent, deserted against the night. And black- out curtains drawn along the boardwalk’s frenzied stage—ruse intermission, as if the play went on while the ocean checked its watch. Her job: to heave the arrow, call a number, underhand toss the cartons to winners. Somewhere out there in the darkness U-Boats hoped to draw their beads on freighter shapes against escaping light. Beneath her feet, determined detonations, a chill between the planks as pylons gutted breakers, people around her hammering fists while the metal claw buzzed, slowed to ticking, trapped between the pegs.