Drift On

by | Jun 11, 2024 | Issue Thirty-Nine, Poetry

When we break apart, you stay on the East Coast with the dishes
and one of the diamonds. I keep the dog and the other one.

For the third time in ten years, I start my life over.
It all fits in the back of my truck. I return

to the West Coast, callous my feet on the beach,
history of my hurt etched into every footprint.

Every day I check the Pacific’s tide charts
and my sorrow’s temperature, note how they rise and fall.

I love you but… in your most tender tone, softer than your hand
in mine, raises flesh on my arms.

From our favorite view off the cliffs,
I watch the early-morning surfers, wetsuits sleek

in sun’s first blush. I count forward by three hours,
wonder if you lay in our half-empty bed, doing your simple math too.

Let’s stay in touch was the defining line of our story here
where sea mist mixed with our first kiss.

The wind here whips my lips.
I lick off the irony of you asking for no contact,

until dry flakes fly back into salt air. I search for our marriage
under rocks heavy as my steps, look for all we lost

in tidepools of shimmering sea glass
left by the undercurrent of a tumultuous sea.

I stuff my mouth with fistfuls of sand,
chew my tongue against love is not enough,

pick grains of it from my teeth, digging
You. Do. Not. Show. Up. out of my gums.

They bleed while I watch goodbye darling, we’re done
ride out on blazing crests of regret,

East Coast bound on dusk’s seeping horizon.
I sift through abandoned sandcastles, flip over broken shells.

I don’t find any beauty in the end of us here.
I skip my pulse like a flat stone out to sea,

scrawled with please do your emotional labor
let it sink in further with every backwash to the shore.

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