I’m sorry, I thought you smiled at me
when your mouth caved open for fish,
teeth gleaming hooks, I thought you splashed
my body because you saw parched lips
with pearly onyx eyes, that you understood
how I, riddled with Florida sun, could not have
what you did, cold, water which was endless
to my child self idolizing the girls in wetsuits
and ponytails riding your back, you looking
blanket soft beneath their hands. I thought
that was love. Maybe it was. I’m sorry
I loved a man who made me feel captive,
like a second skin, who wanted my hands,
my messy apartment, me gaunt-faced, his music
tortured from the television speakers, but then,
I was stroking his silky hair and having his baby,
coming back to him, and you were thrashing
for a way out. I’m sorry for returning to your spectacle.
That you sliced open the pool and bent
into the sun. That your body barrelled with gravity.
The last time I watched you—you still shiny
as a strip of old film, a fresh spill—I fought
with my sister. Blaming the heat, how
it buoyed our tempers. The two of us
huddled in the back of stadium bleachers,
our one handheld fan like a wish we couldn’t decide on.
I’m sorry we forgot your pain. One sweat-baked face
shoving another for the slightest draft, hands and curse words
scraping for a chance to hold the new video camera.
We were stormy voices. Confined bodies.
A breath away from the other’s throat, what no one
could have mistaken for love, but was all we knew.
Bayleigh Fraser is an American poet currently residing and writing in Canada, where she hopes to continue her education in poetry. She previously studied at Stetson University in Deland, Florida. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in 3Elements Review, A Bad Penny Review, The Brooklyn Quarterly, One, Qu, Rattle, and other publications.