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I drove two long silent hours to get here,

cut through an August green as lust

and as my body falls, at last, into the sea—

tumulting, crashing all about me—

the skinny man a few yards off shouts

careful! crooks his wire finger toward

the breakers, warning: sting rays.

Water bats. Winged frisbees fan

through salted chaos, their shapes slice

the cresting waves. Shadows moving

behind stained glass, dusky diamonds

fluent in the ebb and swag of ocean

roaring ocean, salivating sea, I stagger out

from the cliff of backward blue, my breath

floats before me like a bell.

All afternoon they come, a moving clot,

dark ribbon dragging through the water.

Waterborn pilots parading their shark skin

and cartilage vessels, tucking and soaring

and migrating somewhere.

I sit and watch, spotlit

in the hot mind of August,

lucky, lucky victim

of this grandeur.

I came to drop my hands into the sand,

to name each regret, each evidence of all

that’s cracked in me like sun-starched

seaweed before the burling waves.

The King is in the dunes, my knees

are gnashed into the grains.

This time each year, we throw things

into the water. Bread crumbs carrying

our failures, our bright faults.

But watching those swarthy ghost fish, each one

big as a window reflecting the sun off the side

of my car, I don’t want to throw anything in.

I want to be whole, I say aloud to the sea,

I want you to be whole. I want the nightmare

of our separation to end.

The wave crests, the travelers revealed

again and again. This is the story God tells

in a language I no longer speak.


From Might Kindred by Mónica Gomery. Forthcoming Fall 2022 from the University of Nebraska Press.


MÓNICA GOMERY is a poet and rabbi living on unceded Lenni Lenape land in Philadelphia. Her second book, Might Kindred, won the 2021 Prairie Schooner Raz-Shumaker Book Prize, and is forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press. She is also the author of Here is the Night and the Night on the Road (Cooper Dillon Books, 2018), and the chapbook Of Darkness and Tumbling (YesYes Books, 2017). She has been a nominee for Pushcart Prizes and Best of the Net, and her poems appear or are forthcoming most recently in The Iowa Review, Adroit Journal, Black Warrior Review, and Poet Lore. Read more at


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