|An Excerpt from Hook Tender by Erin Marie Soros
The winch angled back and forth from ship to wharf. A steel elbow. A wooden box split open, the cans spilling out and nudging against the coffins, as if the tin were magnetic, metal find metal. Children from the mill town cheered as sailors rolled the frozen tubs down the length of the wharf, the sailors’ hands sticking to the frost. They ran to meet the ice cream, then slowed and backed away when they met that smell. A girl began to cry.
The younger men always ate too fast, and the pain shot through their sinuses. The first bite of ice cream – a double cone for each logger – and they could feel it in the back of their eyes.
The winch loaded the coffins. The first one twirled slightly, hanging uneven, the head heavier than the feet. As each coffin was lifted, the driftwood and rocks on the lids fell and splashed.
Boys stood knee-deep in the ocean, one spitting a mouthful of ice cream to see if it would float. The sailors dragged the containers away from the warf so the women would be clear of the small. Ice-vapor rose in front of their dresses as they scooped deeper. We hid our stumped fingers, missing thumbs behind the cones, so the ladies wouldn’t see.
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October 21, 2005