Rosemary Royston holds an MFA in Writing from Spalding University and is a lecturer at Young Harris College. Her chapbook Splitting the Soil is forthcoming from Redneck Press. Rosemary’s poetry has been published in journals such as The Comstock Review, Main Street Rag, Coal Hill Review, FutureCycle, and Alehouse.
Breaking the Surface
I walk down to the beach through high, wet grass.
My ankles itch. Around me are mountains,
thick and green, a woman turning in her bed.
Wading in, I count three lost Band aids
that have settled to the bottom. I hold
my breath, close my eyes before ducking
into the brown. I recall learning to swim
three decades ago, in a similar pond.
No one picks me as a partner.
When the staffer blows his whistle, there’s just me
and the chubby, toothless boy. We join hands.
I dive into the dark, find I’m an expert fish.
My ribs turn into gills. Air is poison.
I seldom come up.
I feel a hint of fall
as a banded water snake
makes its curvy crawl
across the grey
Between my legs
a tease of an autumn breeze
blows. July heat dissipates.
The snake slips over the edge
into a glassy pool.
when he is long gone,
I, too, slide
into the sudden cool.
Standing on the dock
I see deep into the pond—
its autumn-filled bottom
and grey-mirrored surface of trees,
their desire exposed by tight buds,
pen and ink on dark glass.
Across the way, pines.
Pines bore me,
for they are too true.
But the deciduous…
the deciduous bring loam lust
as breezes ripple the water.
somewhere in between
dressed and undressed,
in between the now and then
and will be, my God—
even shades of grey
Sunbathing at Trackrock
Even though I’m told it’s bad
and I can see new freckles winking
between my breasts, dappling my thighs,
I return each summer to my freshwater
beach, coconut sunscreen in hand
and watch the dragonflies skirt
the water in their royal ways.
I wade in the cool, laugh
as my blue-lipped children swim
to the dock. I force myself into darker
and cooler, my skin puckered, goose-
bumped, the green weed and muck
of decaying leaves giving way
to firmer sand, then turning
to nothing, to me, kicking.
The pines lean over the water,
urge me on until muscles
grow tired, taunt, and I turn
to the shore even though cajoled
to keep going, a life ring skimming
the distance. But no. I’m cold.
So very cold, and as I rise
I’m being born again,
under and in the sun,
dried and kissed and patted,
yes, yes, yes, this is how we die,
this is how we live.
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