He drowned in the lake, and nobody saw.
Water filled his lungs, and down he sank
through the greenish brown until his body
tangled in spiky weeds and his eyes
bulged open. He drowned again when flood
swept through our town. He floated down
the street, his face in wet filth, polo shirt
a soaking rag. He left this world like a rubber
doll. And when he tried to leave the island,
his boat capsized and he drowned again,
with a hundred others from his school.
Biplanes buzzed overhead. They dragged
them to shore with nets, hung them to dry on hooks.
Again and again he drowns.
Sometimes his face is on fire,
sometimes his hands wave in the air.
He’s known the stench of wetness on his skin,
the brittle sound of cold, even sweetness
in the taste of sleep.
He’s thought of his sister’s eyes, those blue wells
floating in a dream of flesh.
How strange, on hard boardwalk planks
to hear the breakers roar and see fishing lines bob
in the surf. Even then, his startled face mirrored
in shallows where only minnows swim, even then he drowns.