The Seawall

by Nicole Melanson


Maria summered
in a motorhome next-door,

an Italian horn pummelled by her breasts
as she rolled and pounded dough.
Tagliatelle, ravioli, gnocchi, pizzelle
She cooked for us
because her children had grown,
save the youngest,
who’d had a taste for things
that killed him.
There were two flights to our trailer
if you consulted the brochure.
Downstairs, campfires crackled
on the other side of the screen
while pairs of teenagers
disappeared into tents.
Upstairs, where my parents slept
there was silence,
except for mosquitoes
stealing what little they could.

Everyone warned me away from the wall,
where local men hit the bottle,
denim-clad and shirtless.
An uncle said they had a thing for blondes.
I liked their women, their warm skin
and dark hair singing with jewellery,
the way they wore lipstick
that melted in the sun,
and danced inside their dresses.
On the day the water came for me,
I watched the highest wave
I had ever seen
rise ready to take me home,
and I just waited, my feet giving way
beneath me, giving me back to the sea.
The darkness was so sudden.
I spent every summer after
staring at hands,
wondering who
was as strong as the sea,
or if the sea herself had spared me,
trading my life for the wall,
slipping more and more stones
into her care until no one
could remember a time
when people and sea had been separate,
when water had trusted us
enough to leave us alone.

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