Shoreline unmoored from ship: everything here must help. Coloring books, supervised showers, phone calls might fasten me to myself. Poems. I’m tired. Last night my father became visitor, sat with me in the dayroom. He said he wants to see me this summer beaching with my daughter, laughing, making a windy mess of our hair, running into the ocean’s heaving stomach. He didn’t say it that way—I distend memory, words. When I was young, I’d put my hand in his, walk low tide or sit on the barnacled furthest-out rock. I’d point—what’s that? Point—what’s that?—He’d answer: Larus smithsonianus, Pagurus longicarpus, Asteria rubens. I was happy to not be these animals, to have a body he could towel-wrap and carry up stone steps to the house. My daughter will soon point and ask. I don’t have all the names. Last night I showed him what I could: caged-in deck, bookshelf, collection of board games, tv forever playing Criminal Minds, phone, my sickness and its name. The Latin for “after childbirth.” When he left, he walked down the fluorescent hallway, hands in his pockets, every few seconds looking back like I might disappear. Once, we watched a Pandion haliaetus catch a Stenotomus chrysops, fly it off into blood orange sun. My father laughed about a good dinner. I was scared, imagined myself fish, wet fins flapping, useless movements unable to steer. Never mind the fish knew nothing of beak, sharp rock, bone. Talon-bright pain, yes—but mostly ribbed sunset, dune grass, a naked child wobbling to an unrippled pool, fist full of pebbles. It has been so long since I learned anything for the first time.
Lindsay Adkins is a writer whose work has appeared in Electric Lit, Narrative, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, great weather for MEDIA, Frontier Poetry, and Sugar House Review, among others. She is a recipient of the Amy Award from Poets & Writers, the Phyllis B. Abrahms Award in Poetry, and an Author Fellowship from the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. She has an MFA from Stony Brook Southampton, and currently works in communications at Mount Holyoke College.