Robin Rosen Chang: Riptide

My mother’s arm reaches 
                             out of the water
                                                  and slides back in.

Then the other arm. Repeatedly
                             they appear and disappear
                                           as they move her through turbulent ocean.

                                                                  She’s swimming diagonal to the shoreline,
                                                 almost like someone
                                  caught in a riptide.

                              But she’s not. She’s going calmly—
               of her own volition, retreating

          from the beach where I lie.
                               I squeeze my shut eyes hard.

                                                            A sliver of her face
                         appears, a waning moon,
         when her head turns

                                                  after every second stroke. Her mouth opens
                                        just enough
                   to pull in air that holds life in her.

                                    Fixed on something
                                                            she seems to see, 
                                                                                      she keeps going.

She doesn’t struggle.
                     The current
                               doesn’t batter her.
                                             It doesn’t carry her off. 

She’s a white spot in the water—
She’s taking herself away—



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