Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Night Swimming" --after REM

After the card game, the uncles and aunts
went back to their own beach rental,
our parents went to bed;
my brother and I had another drink, then joked
ourselves into a mutual dare, and went swimming,
leaving the sleeping next generation behind.

We slipped past the sliding glass
door into air warm as soup
and just as thick. The boardwalk felt
like crackers under our feet, sand-crusted like
saltines. The huge beach
smiled a wide swath of undisturbed sand,
unoccupied since cocktail hour began.

Splashing into the surf felt like grabbing
a whole handful of cotton candy,
and when we got up to our knees and I took his hand
time did a little back-step, two-step, we were both old
and kids again. We laughed
as the waves came, I let
my sun dress be drenched, its cotton
handkerchief around the high towers of my legs, I said
no, I don't want to go further, where I can't touch. We
shouldn't be swimming, drunk.

And it was transcendental, swimming
in the dark, with the moon
of our childhood beyond full, waning
toward the east. I said I have to get back
to the kids but I kept weaving
my hands through the water trying to read
the Braille of is language, to feel what it was trying
to tell me. The softness of the water boggled
me, the coolness of the air when I poked
my toes above seemed backward.

Another wave is coming, I said, another wave.
Where, he asked, and the moonlight filled up the road
of the sea like a streetlamp, and I pointed: there—
That's not a wave, that's the horizon, he said.
Yes. It's coming.

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