View Archives by:



Gary 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.

Gary L. McDowell

Read Bio

Author Discusses Poems