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.