by David C. Kopaska-Merkel
When the wave came, she was preparing food.
the distant sound of the ocean became a roar,
and the snapping of trees and screaming of villagers
burst through the wall like the fist of God.
she had time for one sharp breath before the water
swept it all away.
Her home, her children, everything she knew
was gone in an instant. She expected death,
but the wave dragged her out to sea
in the mother of all undertows, hustling her
to a new dwelling place far beneath her husband’s
wood-chip boat. How he would miss her
and the little ones. How would he manage? He knew
nothing of her work, now his,
but even as she wondered this, her body
hurried into the deeps.
Be strong, she told herself, but even as she strove
to shore up her courage she crumbled
like the sand. She stretched out her arms
into an ocean that she could see
more clearly than she had ever seen anything before.
she opened her hands and let go of the land,
of thatched huts, her body, her husband’s lithe self,
tears, tall trees, sunsets, the breezes of morning
and of evening, and even a baby’s cry.
thus attenuated, she merged with a ponderous wave
that would circle the globe far beneath the surface,
and as she bled into the sea,
ink into fabric, she gathered herself
for one last thought, an important one,
but she did not know
what it was.
David Kopaska-Merkel grew up in what was once the largest state, Virginia, which for a while stretched all the way to the Pacific Ocean. He now describes rocks in the city where the dentist is king, and has made that joke way too many times. David lives with a spouse, a child, five small furry things, and innumerable hangers-on too small to see with the naked eye. Separate Destinations, a chapbook of his poetry written in collaboration with Kendall Evans, is now available through Abyss & Apex and D+66 Books.
Art Director: Bonnie Brunish