One summer, under a bright and shining sun, my sister and I almost drowned.
We couldn’t have been more than 5 and 8, little girls with dark bangs, pink bathing suits, and sticking out tummies, the sucking in that comes with self-consciousness still years away.
We caught sand crabs, waiting through the incoming waves, and then dashing in, hands plunging into wet sand to scoop up the wriggling creatures, their tiny yellow eggs bright against their pale bodies.
And then maybe we got hot, or bored, or distracted by our hunt. But suddenly we were caught in the surf, pushed and pulled, tumbled and pummeled, a jumble of arms and legs.
I still remember the strong drag of the sea, great currents of undertow tangled around our tiny bodies, toes struggling to reach soft bottom,
and then nothing, just floating, heads barely above water, the beach blankets and umbrellas getting smaller and smaller, like a tiny dollhouse version of vacation.
I remember reaching out for my sister, holding her tight.
And then the lifeguards upon us, breathing hard, voices loud with adrenaline, collecting us with strong arms, towing us back to shore.
A hysterical mother; a quietly worried dad. The blue seashells on my warm towel. My sister’s tiny hands.
And the bright sun still shining, not a single cloud in the sky.
Thank you for listening,
Andrea, my little sister, I love you so much. I would have held onto you forever in that giant ocean. And now, in so many ways, you hold me. Thank you for this guest piece tonight, this beautiful poem. Your words haunt and inspire me.
It’s night and we’re hiding
machines are fighting
babies are growing in wombs
we’re not safe anymore
they’re trying to hide our souls
their ice burns our faces
we are survivors
we are ghosts crazed by silence with feet like lead
we are strong
we walk until we’re lost and then we walk some more
we sit down in the sun
stretch out on the sidewalk and whisper songs
nothing seems real
it feels like we’re gone
gone from this moment, our bodies are gone
we’re hiding somewhere unseen
hiding inside each others’ arms
we are derelicts hiding from windows and cars
erase our bodies, erase what we stand for
but this is who we are
THIS IS WHO WE ARE
we’ll chant it, we’ll set up shop and yell it
we’ll SCREAM IT
we’ll break our own bones and bleed it
we’ll bleed ourselves dry and then run through the streets
showing off our bloodless life-filled bodies
we’ll spin ourselves into the ground and catch stars in our teeth
we’ll paint and rip holes and stab with our bones
this is who we are
and we’ll make you believe it