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school said i needed
a bathing suit
mom said i made it up
she doesn’t swim
she’s scared of water
she doesn’t mother
she’s scared of me

i’d never seen the
ocean nor been
to a beach

i’d wandered away
from class and
the crowds
to be alone
in a sweater and
jeans

they were in
bathing suits and
sunscreen

with curiosity greater
than fear
i walked right into her
not prepared for
her embrace

she took me under
held my breath
then flipped me
round and round

until flight and
fight become one

with a burning
throat
a sputtering and
heavy weakness
i made it back to
shore

i remember it
vividly
the sun
the sound
the air
the laughter
from far
away

no one saw
my fear
my curiosity
my fight
my flight

the ocean and
i kept a secret

she wanted me
to know
i could swim
without a
bathing suit
sunscreen
or witnesses

that day i
became a
tornado

i never told
my mom what
happened

she’s scared of
water
mothering
laughter
and flight


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