NEAR-DROWNING, 1997 by Kayla Wheeler

Cloud Walking by Jon & David Swartz
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I don’t remember how it happened, just that I could hear Mom’s voice saying not too far,
then I heard nothing at all. Not the water flood my ears, not the frenzy in my lungs
as they capsized. All I remember is the way the waves sparkled liquid diamonds
from my favorite sequined bathing suit, how my head buoyed just high enough
to watch the sun rise and anchor, as she had done the day before and the day
before that. An older cousin, parading his new and clumsy strength,
watched from the beach as I writhed and kicked like a thirsty
mackerel. He dove in and caught me, pulled me back
toward firecrackers and empty beer coolers.
When it was over, as I lay wrung out
on my back in the sand, the adults
crowded around to ask how
scared I must have been.
I wasn’t. I saw him
coming. The water
was so pretty,

then he broke it.


Kayla Wheeler

Kayla Wheeler is a feminist writer from New England. Her work has table-danced at glitterMOB, Electric Cereal, The Legendary, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, and is forthcoming in the anthologies We Will Be Shelter (Write Bloody Publishing) and Again I Wait For This To Pull Apart (Freezeray Press). She is a two-time NorthBEAST Underground Team Slam Champion and represented Slam Free or Die at the 2013 National Poetry Slam. Follow her on Twitter @KaylaSlashHope