It’s Like This—

by Jacque Vaught Brogan

It’s like this—the shock that the ocean is wet,
and cold. It seems

warm for everyone else. Three frigates
come close, children

run right in, feel exquisitely the sand
shifting under toe,

arms gesturing almost like words in the sun.
Farther off shore

waves build in deepening crescendoes, yellow
tangs drift,

simultaneously, in and out of the stone-
flowered corals.

On land, light strokes a mother’s skin
like a forgotten

lover, as if with surprise palm trees wave in
rooted pleasure,

even as two boys, perhaps seniors at Iolani,
catch the one, great

breaker, stand tensed, like odd dancers,
feet placed just so,

their arms exclaiming this triumphant motion—
Later, when

the ambulance and fire engine come
(why would they call

the fire department for a drowning?) and
people run down

to the Point like excited birds to see
the exact spot

that already bears no stain of where one skull
cracked on the rocks,

the ocean goes on, as if from a great distance,
offering wave after wave,

—with their many flashing coins—and no hope
or desire or pardon.

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