Lunch Date With James At One Of Those Cute Oceanside Restaurants

by Tyler Gillespie

From our table, I watch an old man walk
to the shoreline, strip
off his bathing suit, and dive
deep into the water. He starts
to swim, stroke
and stroke and stroke
and stroke

until he’s a wave
until he’s salt.

James and I
talk about the water, ocean
where he threw
the watch I gave him for our anniversary.
It had belonged to my grandfather, a man
who drove reckless and smiled a young,
Marlon Brando smile

until he counted loose-change teeth.
I think I’ll have the fish, James says, and a glass of white wine. He was drunk
when he threw grandfather’s watch into the ocean.

I think I’ll have a glass
of water, I say, and a cigarette. Lately, he’s been drunk a lot.

To him, the shore’s
no concern. It’s
salt. He’s thinking
of another man

– a Mike or Todd or
Brad or some
other –

I know this,
because after he orders
another glass of wine
he tells me

he loves me.
I try to pretend

the ocean
didn’t eat
the naked, stroke
and stroke old
just to spit
him out

like my grandfather’s rotten teeth
which made grandmother hate
his smile even more.

A seagull stares at us from a wire
hangs overhead. I wait for him
to lurch forward. To land
in salt. James laughs

as the bird
pushes off wire. His caw
and caw to escape feathers. Throw breadbasket

at James. Then, I fly toward
the old man’s body. I
fly and fly
because it’s the only
good thing left
for me

to do.

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