Choppy water

Impulsive trip to suture life,
you seek Fishtown, 70s art colony,
decade-long experiment in bog,
cattail-squatting by painters, poets,
everybody high in marsh-bound shacks,

inspiration delivered twice a day
by Puget Sound tide. Hitch from I-5,
slump colorless in a truck of tulips,
hop down outside this quaint town.
It's been a long year of deaths --

relationship, neighbor, friends --
only not yours, not yet.
LaConner may be a good start,
point you toward Fishtown remains,
provide new direction, maybe north

by redemption. You walk past stacked art,
pallets of it casting long shadows
over First Street, Swinomish Channel
and the gray Sound. Two wrong turns
put you face to face with a church

where one Methodist sits cross-legged,
peers across at Tom Robbins' place,
prays in broken English for a sighting,
like you hopes for hope. Her gaze
says you may be saved by chance

if you bring yourself to believe
poetic fever constitutes fine art,
salt water tastes like good river,
eccentricity cortizones the soul.
She invites you in, whispers low

Robbins never took to Fishtown,
ignored claim -- deliberate simplicity --
tromped trails there only in sun.
His house here defies the color wheel,
mocks seclusion with plastic palm tree

clacking out front in the breeze.
Twin Jaguars idle in the driveway,
purr dual temptations -- beeline it south,
to Seattle, seek soggy culture,
go to a gallery, take in a chic show.

Sun begins to squat on the horizon,
retreat hinting the answer is flight --
leave Robbins, LaConner, behind,
abandon silly Fishtown quests,
let good life etched in gray go.

Find your own way, steal a black boat,
without holes, paddle northwest
in choppy water, make for Hope Island.
You'll sleep without any tonight,
dream it alive at first light.

Timothy Pilgrim