I watch my mother wince like copper
in the sun. She is always in pain, she is
always coated in SPF zero. Coconut,
Mai Tai, the Piña Colada scent of her,
the beach of her. Any shore I visit
runs along her scar, belly button to bikini,
a little gold ring haloes the erosion.
Greased, gleaming, I keep an eye on her
from the water, second sand bar, the tow pulls
me out of her sight, fish on a line,
I swim back, like a run through a dream.
Salt burns the back of my throat
when I see her, watch her son die,
watch her leave on the first flight
to ID him, shuffle my feet for sand dollars.
I hear her retch, her vomit breaks like waves
after every meal for years. ICU, a speck
on the dune, I see her skull broke,
brain bleed, chapped lip, a towel saturated
with her, sea anemone, aneurysm,
neck brace tan line. I see her get robbed,
same day, disabled. Bye body, bye jewelry
box, X marks the loss. Wealth watered down
to social security, an umbrella in the drink.
Thirsty, careless, a break from the sun beckons
me. I slice myself on a barnacle as I wade in.
A clean, red eel slithers from the arch of my foot,
smells like metal, a penny, my mother.