Their Beloved

The moon is just starting to peek out over low-rise denim horizon and the sparks from the fire pop and crackle near my feet. Her knees are bruised and knobby, pulled up to her chin like an old blanket. The spiderweb of her hair waves in the soft breezes that blow off the ocean that I like to think are made from sailor’s salty tales and mermaid’s murderous secrets. She isn’t looking at me so she doesn’t notice me writing poetry about her and taking her all in like my eyes are at an all-you-can-eat buffet and she is the meal. If she were to catch me I think she’d scold with her brown eyes shining like fresh gingerbread and then lean back and laugh so the world would listen in that great booming way of hers. She drags a creased hand across her calfs and chews on the inside of her cheeks like gum. You should see the cavern of her mouth, it’s all ripped and rugged like a torn muscle. The stars overhead are reflected in the dancing water that sprays us after the waves bounce. She grins and I can see her small jewel teeth and then she grabs my hand and pulls me to my feet. Her hands are calloused and rosy from the nighttime cold and she rubs them on my arm and pleads me to come with her. She sprints down the muddy sand and trips on the footprints that sink and fade with the outgoing tide. She kicks off her sneakers and pulls her knotted hair from its braid where it still held saltwater and pink morning air from the first swim of the day. She turns back to me and her eyes are polished pennies dropped out of a tourist’s pocket, out of place on the dirty sidewalk. Her grip is strong but sweet and she holds me like you would hold someone after they cry and pour their heart out, careful but hard so as not to let them slip away. She stops at the edge of the black water and cries out when it reaches her toes. I laugh with her and let the sea numb my feet and ankles. She spins like a broken carousel until she falls lazily into the shallows. She pulls me down to sit beside her. Oh, but when she looks at me I feel like a prize. The water is cold and goosepimples my arms but I never want to leave her side.

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