“Riptide” by Christina Daub

Beautiful Bog 2, William Hicks

After years of acting lifeguard, watching
you swim in whatever current plied your body—
smoke, drink, chemo—one day your bones
just walked right out of you, swam out past
the buoys, the porpoises, past purpose
and living, past anything resembling song.
You, Mr. Invincible, what will I do now
without your wrist, your sockets of blue light,
clavicles I’d kiss, your words dangling
like stranded seaweed on the ocean rope
I pull myself to shore with.
How to make sense of these sounds
which scrape, handfuls of sea glass falling
from my pockets into the cloudy surf,
your breaking voice that comes in tossed
and ravaged wrack? I could not stop
your erosion, nor your denial of it.
Up on my laddered chair, I warned
of danger, blew the whistle
till I was nearly deaf, but you would have
none of it. I could blame your childhood,
your father who made you ocean-swim
a mile in clothes before he let you in,
your mother who preferred bridge and gin.
I could blame the tobacco industry,
the makers of Scotch. Or blame addiction,
that witch with monstrous tentacles,
or even myself for not whistling harder.
We spread your ashes on the shore early
one morning when it was still and empty.
One’s time comes when it comes.
May the wind lift you over the crest
of each wave, may you never know
undertow, red tides or rips. You live
now in my currents, your body gone;
this love though, rescues me.

✶✶✶✶

Christina Daub co-founded The Plum Review, a national award-winning poetry journal, and started The Plum Writers’ Retreats and The Plum Reading Series, which featured Joseph Brodsky, Carolyn Forché, Mark Strand and many others. Recent poems appear in The Southampton Review as well as the anthologies Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC, edited by Kim Roberts, as well as 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day and The Paradelle, both edited by Billy Collins. She received a Young American Poet’s award and her work has been translated into Russian, Italian and German. She has taught poetry and creative writing in the English department at George Washington University, in both the Maryland and Virginia Poets-in-the-Schools programs, and at The Writer’s Center. Her poem, “At the One Step,” received a 2017 Pushcart Prize nomination from Beltway Quarterly Magazine. She is currently translating the poetry of Blanca Wiethüchter and has an article on translation in the current issue of The Writer’s Chronicle.

William D. Hicks is a writer who lives in Chicago, Illinois by himself. (Any offers?) Contrary to popular belief, he is not related to the famous comedian Bill Hicks (though he’s just as funny in his own right). Hicks will someday publish his memoirs, but most likely they will be about Bill Hicks’ life. His poetry has appeared in Horizon Magazine, Breadcrumb Sins, Inwood Indiana Literary Magazine, The Short Humour Site (UK), The Four Cornered Universe, Save the Last Stall for Me and Mosaic. His cover art will appear on Anti-Poetry and Sketch