Sea Creatures


I am terrified
out in the lime juice sea
bobbing next to my father beyond the sand bar
in open ocean.

He grins down at me
his teeth strong and yellow
with brown nicotined edges.
Out of my depth,
waves cracking like broken glass,
I paddle doggedly.

I am afraid of what I can’t see,
of jellyfish and drowning,
of being dumped by punches of water.
I can’t measure up.
My father vaults serene.

I am underneath green, deserted, round-edged water
in a whirl of curtained sand.
I reach the beach — the world is still
staggeringly the same.
There’s my mother sitting like a capped sponge.

She smiles slightly in her black togs.
She is round in sections
like hard dough buns.
Her metal zipper is the green of verdigris.
She looks astonished at her contained capacity.

My mother enters the water ceremoniously.
She corks perpendicularly beneath her bathing cap.
Her round head sits on her round bosoms
which balance on her round stomach
like a black and rotund peach.
She glistens like a sea cow, she wallows.
She allows the water to wash over her.

Emerging, she dries consideringly
in a juddering towel huddle.
Off with her chin-strapped cap, herself again
and her perm springs free.

I dash back into the water.
It is a torture.
It fights me with a slap.
I have sand in my teeth.
Something brushes my leg.
Sea lice bite.
My eyes, red-rimmed, sting.
In the will of the moment I believe
I am having dreadful fun.

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