by Amanda Tien

Only after I raised two babies did I see the ocean. It was always there, I guess. On the other side of Virginia where people had homes and families. Never received a birthday gift, never learned to swim. By the plains of Coney Island where people in love went. I was never a young person in love. Was a middle-aged person in love, though. Silver rings, cheaper than gold. After we moved to California, I went out for milk and sandwiches and ended up at the

ocean. Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink. Where did I know that poem from? The air did taste like salt. They said it was blue. It was blue, yes, but smelted into platinum. No one ever mentioned how the oceanlight would scald my eyes. Hold up my hand above the brow, on a bow of a metal ship cresting silver waves. Blinding like

love. Temporary and forever. Maternal and invisible. Strangers and friends. Trees and earth. Sun and sea. Love, shielding the mind from tiny and not-so-tiny waves of hurt, of forgiveness, of forgetting. The sins of the few anointed in love. Love of an ocean never before seen, later never touched. For almost three decades. Seeing sand and choosing the boardwalk. Watching seals and surfers play. Love, that I took my babies to the Pittsburgh YMCA, told them to mimic the movements of strangers. Test themselves in the deep end; could not have saved them if they had drowned. But they didn’t drown and neither did

you. Your daddy taught you how to swim.

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