The American Poetry Review

THREE POEMS

“When You Swim, Make Your Whole Body Like a Lung,” Says My Wife Rose on Our Honeymoon

Yes, let the body swell and contract with the waves, which I tryto remember when I follow herinto the sea, not heeding the ambulances in me as we skim aboveurchins, their million arms. At dinner later, over spaghetti carbonara,and tiny silver sardines also soaked in oil, we talk about how there are some peoplewho are both afraid and uncurious and never leave their homes. Othersare very curious about the world,we are equal parts curious but me, more afraid. My strokeis sloppy so she teaches me how to frog my legs and arrow my armsand every day I swim a little farther, above the spines.I like it: the worm in my stomach tells me to leave, and I endure it longertil it passes. I have been so afraid of my body, measuring everythingwrong or weak: the mononucleosis that lasted a year, a long coughand the mistake of my lung’s skin foldingon the X-ray, miming a spot. I wept. I died againin my mind. Oh Rosie, I want to be brave, and I can!Last year, you were pissing on my leg after an anemone stung it,when a wasp zoomed in. You gave me a look to say , and insteadI flailed your wee into your face. This year, I let the wasps pass. Haloedwith a green-gold fear, then they pass. They pass.

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