SnorkelingGary L. McDowell
The distant thunder keeps beat with the steel drummers on shore. We push away and 'The Snorkeler' eases into the bay. Above us, gulls glide westward, away from the oncoming storm. They ignore the scraps of teriyaki left by children, the spools of fried breads and candied plums that litter the docks. I taste salt with every breath. Waves break against the hull, the soft spray whisked back into our faces. Dad holds onto the rail as the boat dips and pushes, flails and falls. I want to tame the water, reweave the breakers into something smooth, the skin of a snare drum, tight and melodic. Dad's legs, so thin and weak, shake every time we hollow, bottom-out in the wake of a wave. He's dying. But we're going snorkeling. We're going deeper into the thunder until the drums drown-out and the hairs on my arms stand. We're going deeper together. We're floating toward the coral, the sharp, ragged edges of fish bones and fossilized lobsters. We're here where the gulls can't feed, too far from shore, so instead they keen and whine. The ocean is too cool, the lightning will not strike us, but the boat is turning back. We won't go snorkeling. Dad's gaunt hips and swollen middle set against the steel blue storm remind me that we're all flesh, we're all booming. I want to push him in, push him hard and unashamed.
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