I knew she’d miss me.
Points of fingers digging slightly,
Varying pressure across my unfeeling thigh,
Holding whatever was around us.
Touch binds emotion to dead things.
It skates along filaments to sinews,
Plastic to skin to salt.
She brought me to the beach, into the surf, out here:
That was her mistake.
Beneath the surface flows another world.
Sideways I kick inside it,
Lashing out, I move
No longer attached to body or world or girl,
I swim alone.
The salt burns and trickles inside me,
Filling me up.
A dark motion holds me for a long time.
Returning is another leaving.
Never stepping twice onto the same sand,
Out of the same salt water, alongside the same
Air feels empty after so much water.
Now when I kick nothing moves.
Steve Mentz is Professor of English at St John's where he teaches Shakespeare, oceanic literature, and literary theory. He's written two scholarly books, including most recently *At the Bottom of Shakespeare's Ocean* (2009), edited two more academic volumes, and also published many articles on literary culture and the maritime environment. His works in progress, performance reviews, and swimming autobiography can be found on his blog, The Bookfish (www.stevementz.com)