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.