Sharm el-Sheihk, Egypt
“But the Children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.” Exodus 14:29
I’m watching bodies
from where I sit at the end of the pier, knees tucked up close to my chin,
heat blurring todayandthen.
These bodies float face down, strewn like the drowned dead across this,
the Miracle Basin.
Nothing, not even these happy snorklers, can keep me from
weeping behind black lenses.
And you roll up right beside me.
Roll right up within inches and
raise yourself from your chair,
raise yourself with shoulders as imposing as the Sphinx,
raise then brace then whisk yourself down onto the pier to sit
at my side.
Just one thin plank divides us.
Your legs end midthigh.
All torso and profile, you overfill my peripheral field, and in
half a breath I feel to be
your companion in deficit.
My tears stop. Then my legs suddenly shame me.
I would speak to you. I would turn my shoulders, clear my throat, take off my glasses
and I would speak to you.
You’re here, too, I would say, just sitting and watching,
Cut in half as I feel
And how did yours happen and when and how have you made it
And will we ever know joy, we who are so chopped down
You fling yourself into the blue,
splitting the Sea with arms like windmills,
arms that, with each plunge,
whip droplets of miracle water onto my shins.
Just three months removed from family tragedy, Melissa and her family were strongly encouraged by friends to escape Munich’s gray autumn drizzle for the heat of the desert. The bereaved cannot escape grief, however; it follows them everywhere. The last day by the Sea, Melissa saw an amputee. Minutes later, Melissa quietly slid herself into the deep, the first time she’d completely submerged herself in water since her son drowned.