Tugging


when I was young, my sister would wash

my back for me, scrubbing where I couldn’t

reach. sometimes I would pull open the glass

door, join her under sheets of water.


I had a fear of water,

of drowning in a micro-fall, of a folklore witch

dragging me down the drain. our mother

would let me wash alongside her.

I would scrub with the suds I caught

from her breast and side, her wound,


my exit. she had so much unmarked

softness. I didn’t know how to swim

until I was twelve years old and would panic


under every rinse. my cousin once tried

to drown me in a lake upstate; she pretended

to have fallen, tugged at my wrist,

played pregnant mermaid with my head

clutched beneath her shirt. I still can’t trust

my compulsive breath or let go

of my nose when it comes time to plunge


again. I remember tumbling in a wave

on the coast of Florida while my family

leaned over melon. the ocean floor clogged

my ears. I can still hear it wailing loudly,

lunging a millennia’s crust at me,

as if I caused its stippled erosion.


a storm surge is apathetic, I suppose.

I’ve watched the Atlantic swell and swallow

a hug forever, and I still think of that boy

who held a hose to my face, his meekness laid


on his lawn near the grove. I’m older now

and when I stare up at a Gulf storm, the sideways

sheets of rain breaking the sky open, I remember

looking up from under, and my mother’s anger

becomes too slippery to hold onto.

 

GABRIELLA ADRIANA IACONO is a writer, artist, and educator from Staten Island, New York. Her work has appeared in Defunkt Magazine, NYSAI Magazine, Portmanteau LDN, and elsewhere. She lives in Houston, Texas, where she is a third year MFA candidate at the University of Houston. Iacono is completing her first collection of poetry.