SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

Seal Beach by Chloe Martinez

A wave slides slantways under surfers, skinny teenage

hips kicked out as they fall in water

that swirls like mercury, and the kids

shrieking in the shallows, and the tankers

 

still as the corpses of giants along the horizon line,

and the pier rough-tumbling out to its conclusion.

Small boys: kick water at one other.

Old people: sit on the bench. Observe.

 

Skinny girls: selfie, selfie, text. My baby,

not a baby anymore, tugs my shirt aside anyway, nurses.

The surfers falling and falling. The first-grader’s current

joke: Why do seagulls fly over the sea? Because,

 

if they flew over the bay they’d be bagels!

Bend the knees, bend the knees,

swivel-twist, fall back, fall back, fall.

A teen with boy-band bleached hair

 

smokes beneath the pier. You’ve been at sea

for some time now. You’ve been

sick of it. But then, the roar of the waves

calms you too. The kids are doing handstands

 

at the waterline like your inverted

brain, sand-suck around their hands

as the tide runs out, the world

upside-down, then slowly righting itself.


Chloe Martinez lives with her husband and two daughters in Claremont, CA, where she teaches on the religions of South Asia at Claremont McKenna College. A graduate of Boston University’s Creative Writing MA and the MFA for Writers at Warren Wilson College, her poetry has appeared in Waxwing (forthcoming), The Normal School, The Cortland Review, The Collagist, Crab Orchard Review and elsewhere, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is at work on a scholarly monograph and seeking a publisher for her first poetry collection. 

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