Learning to Swim in an Estuary

He is walking in wet sand, leaving deep footprints that the waves will turn to tiny oceans. Follow him. He is pointing out a yellow moon pinned to a black sky. Tell him that he's right, it's beautiful.

He is saying, “It looks like a million diamonds on the water, doesn't it?”

Say yes.

He is saying, “I'll bet you'd go in for a million diamonds.”

Say yes but mean no. You won't go in for anything.

Come on, he tells you, just one step. He takes your hand. There are two fishermen perched on beach chairs. You can't see their lines in the dark. Thirty yards down there is a seagull screaming. You are sure she is trying to warn you of something. You tell him this and he opens his mouth to laugh. You picture the ocean filling him like a wine glass. This is what you're afraid of. Being swallowed. Like his footprints. Like Jonah.

Don't take your shoes off. There are too many rocks. Don't cry. You are being ridiculous. Come on, he says, just one step.

Just one more, and then a second, and then you have to roll your pant legs up because you're in up to your calves. Shhh he is telling you, it's not so bad.

Then he is kissing you deep and hard. He is putting his hands in your hair. He is saying something into your open mouth, something that sounds like See? Or maybe Sea? He stops and looks at you. His eyes are water-blue.

Tell him yes. It's not so bad. Tell him it's not so bad to be swallowed.


words: J.M. Patrick, Connecticut (more)
image: Steve Wing, Florida (about & more)


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