Ben Clark & Colin Winnette
I decided, finally, to go deeper, though you were convinced I wouldn’t
have the lungs for it. Not like Audrey, five hundred feet below the surface
looking up, waiting. You don’t trust me. Knew even then how terrified I was of the water,
and Audrey. You kept saying she found the wreck, in record time,
and now she wouldn’t leave. How you wanted her back even if she broke
your record, had broken all your records, was planning to leave you,
was already dead. So I dove, after you drank yourself into a soft thing,
head back, mumbling like a nightmare. I didn’t need to stay, to listen,
because I knew. Rescue gear and you emerging from the unsteady wake
a hero, her draped over your shoulder, still breathing
sweet nothings into your ear. I’d taken an extra tank, enough oxygen
for an elephant. Prepared for the worst.
If I reached her or not, I won’t say either way. What’s the use
telling you if I found her in the belly of the wreck, breathing,
not breathing. To you she is only a vessel on which to sink. A rope you could follow
to the bottom. To me she has always been less than a body. A shudder of light,
gesturing in the dark. Something I could never touch.
We found some water that could be our water
and sat alongside it for hours, daring each other to dive.
You called me a child, slipped in your feet,
then the rest of you. I was a little worried about you,
bobbing up and under, moving farther and farther
from the shore. My mother says we should talk this over.
She is this kind kind of person. Sends me photos of a ring
leaned against fossils. Bigger than you, she writes.
In another, she is smiling. Her hands look bruised as a boxer’s mouth.
Where we live now, she writes, dinosaurs are just another thing
we don’t even worry about. You re-emerge, holding a beer
can covered in lake-bottom mud. I don’t know the label.
You wipe the top with my sleeve, open the beer, offer me a sip.
The boat launch is hot enough to bake a thing on, you tell me,
making this odd sort of shape with your hands.
BEN CLARK is the author of Reasons to Leave the Slaughter (Write Bloody 2011). He is an assistant editor at Muzzle Magazine and lives in Chicago. You can also find him at benclarkpoetry.com.
COLIN WINNETTE is the author of three books: REVELATION, ANIMAL COLLECTION, and FONDLY. A detailed list of prizes and publications and animal pics can be found at colinwinnette.tumblr.com. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and a very loud refrigerator.