sharks in the ocean

Before there were sharks in the ocean, there was only the relief of hot skin cooling in the Miami Beach summers. Waves crashing and joyfully jumping to get above them. Loud and not loud at all an endless crash same way my heart will crash without my knowing. My father smoked Cuban cigars on the balcony at night when I was little; I hear the crash below still going on in a never-ending sea of black. It is there whether I am with it or not. The moon is calling me to not ever go back to sleep again. Sometimes I listen. I know better, but I am pulled in. Like my heart and it’s tide of ink

I want to reign and wrestle it to some place more still. To not feel the pull of the sun or moon. “I will be,” I think to myself, and I will not write stories about how things came to pass, about broken dreams and heroes, like my father under the awning of our house in Miami, waiting for his breath to still. He ran miles in that scorching heat, and I sang

deep in the home away from tragedy. Not in the home, but deep away where things bigger than what is become what you will be. When I am older, wondering about why I continue to write poems or learn some new craft, I sit up at night and am overwhelmed by the simplicity of finally loving who I am. It is difficult to not feel alone in this. To have others assume happiness comes without pain or is absent of grief. The key, I wonder, was to hold it all, the grief, the joy when it seemed wrong to feel joy, the moments that reminded me of who I was. Like sitting beneath a tree reading some trashy, urban fantasy. Or, listening to music as I pounded the streets again late at night. To be terribly defiant in the way you will scream and rage and love and laugh. Eventually,

there were nights I laid there, and I was smiling at something. I think about long ago, before there was a man who dragged me from my home late one night and the silence of such tragedy. I look at people home from wars and see their silence. I see my best friend the night before he went home and took his life. I wonder

at the ways we become beautiful when the world can be dark. Sometimes I would drive to the ocean and sit there all day on my days off from being a barista. I couldn’t work in mental health anymore after my best friend was gone, after my mom came to visit and took all those Xanax instead of finally saying I had been enough. I felt like I walked a wire high above the city between skyscrapers looking for a way to get down. But at the ocean,

feet in the sand, headphones in my ears listening to artists tell me how… sometimes I would call my father, and I’d see if he was able to see me yet. But he raised me to be too strong, and he saw I could bear it. I’d hold his strength, and I used to think he was wrong for making me like this, strong and private. I think in some ways it is a tragedy, especially the nights I turned to destruction instead of life when there was no one there to bear it with me. All the grief,

passes eventually. And, when he was gone, too, instead of falling, I kept just doing what I had been doing. I am not immune to my own beauty. I am not able to let go of how I came to be?

But, before there were sharks in that deep ocean, I used to laugh in joy anytime I saw a dolphin. I imagined one would come up to me one day, bobbing up and down with that silly grin, and it would tell me all the secrets it knows. And, I knew these secrets could not be told. They had to be known, and he was telling me in his special way. Yea, there are sharks. So what?

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