In the three o'clock afternoon

sun, we jumped
through Mexican waves.


Toward the horizon,
nothing but Pacific
and bands of light arcing
out of the bay like memory.


We held hands at first,
but the ocean was rough, the waves
twisted with salt and recent storm.
So we treaded water, the beach
bobbing up and down
in our view.


I don't know at what point we realized
we were in danger, when the water,
unrelenting, hit our heads too often, too quick.
There was this look between us, an idea
that it was time to go to shore now,
that one second later would be too late.


Even though we were together,
and I knew he could save us both,
I kicked my legs to the beat of my long ago
swimmer's body, the muscle memory
rekindled by adrenaline.

I pulled after him, breathing toward land.


Now in bed, one of us will say, "Do you remember
when we almost drowned?"
And I am never quite sure
which time we mean, our marriage
stretching fifteen years since Mexico,
pulling us away from land and each other
a hundred times or more.


But the other will nod, silent
for that second, then saying, "Oh, yes."
And maybe, we will touch
because we know we've saved
each other since.
Mexico was only the first time
we had to pull hard, one after the other,
desperate for shore.


Published in Death and Donuts, 1998, Manfit Press. First Place, Griggs Achievement Awards.