– Nicole Hospital-Medina –


I hid under my mother’s palm.
Palm tree is the only shadow of trust.
My eyes grew green in this shade.
I slept on my father’s hammock.
Sway is the only breeze of comfort.
My arms grew strong in this shell.
I flurried with them,
from pebble to cliff,
frantic, frightened in foam.
Waves engraved shark and secret.
The cliff howled loudly with large.
His mouth opened to us,
sucked us in with a whale’s appetite.
My mother didn’t know I was

the seaweed in her pigtails

she picked out crossly with pensive fingers.
My father didn’t know I was
the salt under his knees
he wiped and wiped with absent hands.

When they both spoke in elementary
classrooms, I swam out. I surfed
in her muteness, his segregation. I grew
out of this misfit, sand and limestone—
a stimulating amphibious creature,
oozing out androgyny and fight,
some sort of island thing on billboards.
Did they know I was there?
That I swam against the current
with them? 
That I paddled fiercely
for their buoy of reunion?
I remember when they reached it—
both had arms sore from confusion.
They both clutched the bobbing bright.
I think the saltwater turned pink,
I think their eyes released a place.

Florida of exclusion.
Florida of denial.
inlet of flying fish.
Silver does not sparkle without light.
I could not catch one ever.
The fish hopping past us, around,
some alone, some in couples, in schools.
The net is empty.
My mother waits.
My father steers the tiller.
He cannot keep the sails from luff,
at least now we are afloat.