Sneaking into the backyard
pool, hours after midnight:
your parents snoring. We set
the alarm for 3 AM,
so we won't sleep
through our planned
transgression. It feels both

dirty and clean, our
adolescent figures slippery
warm: underwater lights
glowing on bodies
liberated from the constraints
of clothing, from parents'
growling obscenities
behind vodka bottles.
Your mother and father in bed

and mine two thousand
miles away, drunk on
cheap malt liquor, crushing
the bull's face on the can
while reaching for another.
Our limbs almost touching

as we sneak peeks in the
dark for naked silhouettes.
Breasts and vaginas
in blue chlorinated soup,
choreographed and flashing
like strobelights. We surface, laughing.

"Sssssshhhh," I say,
"somebody might hear."

Yet nobody hears. Their
ears tuned to unconsciousness,
a depth lower than our bodies:
we plummet to the bottom,
scrape the floor with fingertips. I tell myself
it doesn't matter what happens

after we dry ourselves
and return to the house,
pretending we've been asleep
the entire time. In the morning
it will begin again: your father
reaching for the bottle,
then your mother's hair.
His turn to be naked
as he drags her from the couch.

You plead with me to stay
in California, but I call
home, then fly over mountains
for the first time. We arrived
slowly, by train. I pointed
at the pineapple trees,
and you laughed, told me
they were palm. Now I
flee towards my parents:
my known abuses, in contrast
to your unknown ones.

 

 

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