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.