She Would Say She Swam With Her Brother

Poetry by Pamela Hobart Carter

A photograph of water underneath the surface.

She would say she swam
with her brother. He dove
into the crashing surf, dove
through the incoming wall and swam.

The ocean tossed
him and he smiled.
From her beach post she waved and smiled.
The ocean tossed

and churned. She inched
like a bride down an aisle, halted
when the waves never halted
but lapped her feet, inched

to her ankles, calves—showered
her with cold, with salt. She loved
the freshness, loved
the pull of grains underfoot while above waves showered.

Opposite onslaughts. She laughed.
But how to enter?
How to enter?
Between swells, when the water laughed,

she slipped in, and the tow took
her and held
her below, held 
her against the sand, took

her chances to breathe,
surrounded her with translucent green, bore
down on her, bore
on her an imagined end, would not let her breathe.

Against the bottom she pushed.
A trough passed.
A crest passed.
Through the water she pushed.

She marched
from the sea, mounted
a windswept dune, mounted
calm, marched

to the driest spot and dropped
onto safety, panted,
blinked off her typical tears, panted,
recovered, dropped

any thought of—waited
for her brother. He wended
his way up from noisy foam, wended
his way to quiet, where she waited.

Did they sit 
together to watch
the breakers? Or did she watch
alone and sit

alone? He drove
them home, damp and wrapped
in their towels. She wrapped
away her death as he drove.

Pamela Hobart Carter is a teacher, artist, and writer with two geology degrees. Her plays have been read or produced in Seattle (her home), Montreal (her childhood home) and Fort Worth. She is the author of three chapbooks: Her Imaginary Museum (Kelsay Books, 2020), Held Together with Tape and Glue (Finishing Line Press, 2021), and Only Connect (forthcoming from ShabdAaweg Press). As a Covid-times activity she added make-a-poem-at-home lessons to her website: Her poetry has been nominated for Best of the Net and The Pushcart Prize.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

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