by Leah Mueller
The road to the water rises and drops
and the temperature
on my dashboard clock
says eighty, but I always have
to subtract three
to arrive at the correct number.
I don’t know why
this is important, my insistence
upon the precise calculation
of the heat, but it soothes me,
almost as much as the water
which emanates from a distant glacier
whose name I never remember.
I imagine Lake Michigan,
that first perfect summer afternoon-
swimming for endless hours
as my mother reclines on a towel.
She stares ahead at nothing
through dark shades, listlessly
smokes bent, sand-encrusted cigarettes,
and pats coconut lotion
on her thin, reddening body.
I run towards the water
while transistor radios
compete with the sound of waves.
Laughter rises and falls
with the water’s pull, until I fall
asleep, face downward in the sand.
Later, at home, I peel…
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