Fall 2015

Edited by Andrea Spofford | Barry Kitterman | Amy Wright



Poetry

The Divorced Vet Teaches His Daughter How to Surf

Kevin Clark


No one knows who’s born to the swell Quick Brick
could scoop bad-hop grounders in one motion
but would fall from a board pressed flat on sand

It’s like God’s in the glove Brick would rant just
not any beach he’d walked on Marie held
to the idea of Jesus as a path

I never could figure She was Catholic
and halfway mystic about everything
from sex to sunsets When Kira finally stood

on the wave and rode those long eight seconds
Marie rose next to me in slow motion
before gut-shrieking a mother’s prayer

I turned surprised to see her laugh like that
Then surprised again at the way she leaned
against me just as she’d stood on the beach

at Newport two long decades back raving
about my new board her bikini
and those sea-lit eyes both flashing Surf’s Up

like the sign at Tokay’s shop Suddenly
I was tombstoned just too blitzed for clean water
Then I worried I was too short of her

deep smarts and yet she kept swimming my bed
til next thing I know we’re in Pre-Cana
Then we’re dressed up on the St. Tim’s altar

and I’m shacked by all that love in her vows
No one knows if the waves call the infant
from the womb The night Kira was born

I sang her all the way down the long hall
to the hospital nursery And so
after I’d glided into the morning sun

I froze that afternoon then wiped out hard
It hit me I could never tell Marie
about that night in the war No one knows

if a soldier’s wife can swallow the shriek
of nightmare without bailing No one knows
how to call it quits himself when quitting

has to mean one thing only I told Brick
no one knows for certain where God is but
if he’s out there he’s not in the water

No way He’s gotta be water itself
Marie nodded yes like all was good
as the day we’d learned to surf in tandem

When an endless wave wasn’t as clichéd
as a vow She’d lean into me real cool
while God held us upright on the edge of the curl

 

____________

Notes:

tombstoned:
an event in which a surfer falls underwater with the foot leash
stretched out so that the tail of the surfboard is being pulled down and
the nose of the surfboard sticks up in the air like a tombstone

shacked: riding inside the barrel of a good wave

Pre-Cana: couple’s meetings, often with a Catholic priest, before marriage

clean water: smooth surfing surface

surfing in tandem: two people surfing together on the same board




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