Weekly feature by: Rodd Whelpley

Independence Day. Our friends – mostly hers – pull iced beers from
the tub on the deck. Their kids (I know their names, again, because,
before the doorbell, she whispered them) are filled
with watermelon. There are subjects (I’ve forgotten them)
off limits.

We satellite the picnic mass, host and hostess in opposing orbits.
Across the universe, by nod and grimace, she keeps me
in the balance. (Someone needs a drink; Say little Skyler’s dress
is pretty.) Gravity goes harder at us now,
tugs lightly at her paunch and also mine. Her hair
has not completely dried. A friend snaps
pictures, but will post a stranger’s memory: I
am not so big. Her clothes don’t bind that way.

Our son is somewhere here. He is thirteen, or will be soon. I trust
she will pick the present. I forget how he chose to look
today: At turns he goops and jelly rolls his hair, sometimes, gingerly,
he shaves at the shadow below his nose. I want to be there,
his mirror, the voice whispering about the men with long knives.
‘They are already on the dock, sawing the moorings.
When you are swept out, then you will see the sea is
not, as you imagine, hued fanciful, like the eyeshade of a girl.
It is angry. For years to come, only the absence
or the presence of every color – Scream.’
I want to tell him, ‘Scream now.’
As though he could out decibel the currents
and the undertows and the sirens and at last
the buoyant mermaid, whom he thinks will float forever.

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