I lift my chin to the sky
to expose my neck to the unbridled sun
and fall into the ocean back first, belly-up.
It rocks me like a sleeper car,
holds me in the crook of its arm
and carries me out towards the horizon.
Of course we don't notice the water growing deeper;
we're floating on our backs, after all.
Beneath the pebbled surface
my fourteen-year-old eyes ripple like hot glass,
and suddenly I understand that she is watching me
in the way that one watches the sun and the sky
from the sandy floor of a deep ocean.
She feels my presence in the way one feels a dream
just after they wake from it--
almost real, almost grounded in actuality,
yet fading more into fiction with each passing moment.
She stays close to the ocean floor because she knows this reef,
because she still believes
that there are sea caves yet to be explored,
that there are pearls yet to be discovered
in the mouths of stubborn clams.
One day she will come to realize
she no longer recognizes this patch of coral,
has never swam with these fish,
and she will understand that the current has been nudging her along
because her anchor was the sky
and she forgot that every stretch of blue looks the same.
mermaid with stained glass criss-crossing your chest,
child of the sea and child of change--
one day you will have the courage
to bend your knees
and push off by the balls of your feet,
expecting me to catch you.
You will not expect to break the surface