Us at the Lakeshore

Mama’s red gingham stake
-out before the crowd
close but not to require 
retreat when the syringes and
tampons wash in scrubbed 
rock raw but unclean

Habit over necessity. Her of 
cocoa oil, no umbrella. Way
-farers and mystery flung 
across my Little Mermaid
towel thighs tucked to one side
like Ariel
Lifting from our ribs

No cucumber sandwiches, no
thermoses of lemonade or even
bottles of water; just butter 
wafers, a fountain; an excuse to
get on back, to scrub the grime, to
start the sauce before daddy gets in

Once he held me rabbit
heart over Perry’s deck; a shift.
Him a boy in Super 8, brain 
pleading to make sense of the 
snarl, of the granite just out of 
reach and I left myself; am he.

Now there is an island resort with
plastic palms and a Noshery on
the mainland and a painted 
tunnel where children 
yell messages 
more to us than to each other

I love their anger and I miss it
These days I might slow walk
down the jetty to glimpse myself
Sit with feet pointed out but
sneakers on
The last thing I need is grit between my toes

Photo by Zachary Keimig on Unsplash.

Melanie Galizio Stratton

Melanie Galizio (she/her) is an Ohio-based poet, possessed of a curious spirit and deep love of Earth. Her interests span the arts, but she has recently found inspiration in traditional folk music, aural storytelling, and mixed media creative practices. Her recent work has appeared in Cider Press Review. Find her on Instagram at @melanifluous.