She let the wind of the waves negotiate her body, her dress, a tsunami in the water- wind. My father tried everything to make the boat-house a home. It didn’t even look like a boat. It was a two-story Victorian painted Friday-night-red. He gave it little windowpanes, planter boxes of petunias hung at their bases. The ever-ideal picket fence wrapped around the house like a jagged embrace. He even bought her a dog when we docked in Greece. We named him Catfish.
She stood there still as a tree, anything with roots, as if she might simply slip from the last stair into the weight, away from the salty red window panes, away from the dishes clanking their lullabies, away from the chair rocking only a tattered bear with no eyes.
“This isn’t just seasickness,” my mother said. Whenever she said this, I would bring her tea with honey and I would brush her wavy, golden hair. She wanted a stillness that an ocean cannot possibly possess. My brother and I were some fishing line between my mother and father, the tug and tautness of battle.
The dreams aren’t as soothing as you might think when you sleep at sea. Instead of the tender shift of weight from side to side in a mother’s arms, it was a slosh of weight, a slap and slush, and too much great depth to live upon. To fall asleep I would pretend I was on a park swing, pumping my legs into the endless sky, like before.
My mother was baking her famous cherry pie again. We all have dreams we can’t let go of.
We were cheering my father on, his swordfish whipping heavy, like a bad memory. “This is the one,” my brother shouted. He said that about everything, which was both disappointing and full of hope. The animal thrashed its deadly face, trying like hell to get back to the before. We admired its boundless muscle, its silvery beauty and my stomach tightened. I was part of its end and wouldn’t look away as its bright flesh dulled.
The dog barked. No one noticed my mother’s apron ruffling in the wind as she descended the perfect staircase my father had hammered together one Saturday morning, and further still, her supremely quiet slipping down into the sea, from light to darkness, a jelly fish fluttering toward another bloom.
Amanda Chiado is an MFA graduate of California College of the Arts. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and is forthcoming or appears in Best New Poets, Witness, Cimarron Review, Fence, Eleven Eleven and others. She currently works as the Program Coordinator for the San Benito County Arts Council and she is also an active California Poet in the Schools. Visit her at www.amandachiado.com