The canvas tilts beneath me and, feet secure, I lean back across the hard hull. Salt and cold splash onto my skin and warm under the sun. Even the wind on me is warm. And I am at your back. By your side. You have turned this light thing into a chariot over the water. Out here, lines in hand, you have no doubts. You have not forgotten one single thing about this love. Strength and joy radiating fiercely, you carry me along. And for that, I purely adore you.
It cannot last. Balance relinquished, I snuff my regret quickly (as I never can on land.) Picking my spot, I jump- light and precise- into the ocean. Carefully avoiding ropes and sails. No entanglements. Just the way you taught me. Just the way you liked it. Until the day you walked down those stairs and mistook me for an angel- inside and out.
But I am a real girl slowly treading these southern coastal waters. This is all I have ever been. Too good for you. Wilder than all of them. Still not bad enough. I cannot win. You are a fool. Love bleeds away into the water.
I watch as you stand on one edge and pull the mast upright. Shoulders, torso, thighs- those muscles doing what they do- and I think you are beautiful. Man in his element. I have never found anything on this planet more compelling. Leviathan stirs in the depths below me and I say, “Hush. Go back to sleep.” And to my body, “Be quiet. There is nothing to fear.” And then I am rolling up and down on this beautiful ocean.
Wet fabric clears the water. And wind, overeager with the punch line, jumps at it right away. I watch as you go- lovely, lovely. Wanted- always wanted- by those who mean you harm and ones who wish you well. (I can no longer tell where I belong.) You are shouting to me while the distance pushes us apart. I still my heart and lift my head. Perfectly quiet- to hear your words. (Woman does not live by bread alone.) I realize I am a fool to wait.
I wish it were me you were afraid to lose. I do not give a shit about your cooler full of beer.