from John Cheever’s Goodbye, My Brother
The coast was terminal
naked, unshy, beautiful.
The beach is a vast unrecognizable
Wild grapes grow profusely all over islands
where nothing else grows but course grass.
I don’t have any more time to waste here
with nets on the cliffs filled with balloons and fish hooks.
He occurred to this baleful and uninhabited beach,
a goodbye that drank too much.
I am always washing or mending or ironing clothes
every word of flirtation was aimed at him.
Our laundry always smelled of wine
I felt sick.
Our house is fifty-two years old
too old to be frivolous or destructive.
Find even the inshore water green and thick and cloudy
come as you wish you were.
Naked women walk out of the sea
before the tiresome winter.
Our house is going to fall into the sea
a symbol for more bruises turning blue.
He said he was claimed for baptism
I play along for the sake of courtesy.
Like ruptures standing on a cliff above a sea
I’m going to sell my goodbyes.
The abuse seemed to reach a crescendo
he hit me with a stone—something—on the beach.
There were a number of goodbyes dressed in white
no church spire at the end of our sails.
I saw his plain face magnified into ugliness
went from one broken thing to another.
Continuous detonations of the tide
like fabulously unhappy little fishes.
His choice influenced mine
I swung a piece of the moon heavy with sea water.
I am as good as anybody
saying to the sea there are obdurate truths.
I scrub and iron with fervor
set a homeward course by the gasoline barge.
I have jobs everywhere
like coming out of the pantry with a full glass of gin.
Emily is a graduate of Susquehanna University with a BA in Writing and a BA in Publishing. She has work published in HOOT, Rock & Sling, The Apeiron Review, and Stone Canoe. When she isn’t writing, she can be found reading fantasy novels or watching Top Ten videos on Youtube.