Poetry

98. what keeps love afloat

sailor

It was easy to love you, in the sea,
while salt kept us afloat
and we touched each other in passing,
between strokes.
Waves hit casually,
left no bruises behind.

Togetherness was pleasant in June,
when the sea was close.

 Then in winter I said: Let’s drain the bathwater,
we’ve soaked in the mud of our pasts for too long.

I want to see what we become when
our nakedness is no longer clothed
in excuses of a common pain.

You seemed uncertain,
but agreed.

As the water drained,
we first grew corporeal,
then heavy.

I was quiet, quietly
bruised in places
where our weighty bodies
had collided one last time.

I drew myself another bath.
Soaked in chlorine for a year, or so.
Let the memories disintegrate.

When the heat set in again,
I wrote another in my heart, my poem,
told him right away:
Love is easy when it’s underwater,
and water’s what we’re made of.
I’d rather that you keep your love inside,
For a while.

We swam across the season gingerly,
but the currents grew too strong by fall,
for our weightlessness
to triumph.

Third time’s the charm, I thought
when I met a sailor this July.
We drank cheap wine until morning
and talked of could-have-been’s.

When dawn came around,
I tried to end it hopefully:
Plenty more fish in the sea.

A kiss was expected, but
he laughed at me instead.

The sailor said:

Ain’t no lover that
you’re after, lassie,
it’s an anchor.

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