Let’s call him Isaiah. I was seventeen
the first time he died. On the dirty beach at dawn
I encounter his blue body, sprawled.
I place a sprig of sea grape
over his milked eyes. He must’ve fallen
off the boat taking him across.
Death by water I never understood
until I swam in Lake Taghkanic, sweet
dark and cloying she wouldn’t
hold me like all my oceans.
That second time, in the motel bath
tub with the television on dripping
water down the side; The Drowned Man
thumbed pages of Gideon’s bible absent
mindedly, observed the wood paneling
before saying: Who do you think braids
the surf into the knees, twists the tide
into your wrists? Let’s just
stack sea-glass until faraway mountains
become the last Sunday bathers at the beach
clinging to each other in the swell.