Skinny Arms, Strong Arms

by Alena Chekanov


Clinging to my fathers back as we fly home

Houses, blurred, melting from my eyes

Blinking, I can see them sharp again,

One moment more before they swim


The fierce tremor of the motorcycle

Swallowing oil and screaming up the street


Reminds me of the waves.


The beach, my father, that summer I was six

The way I learned to tame the ocean under skinny arms

Reaching through heartless currents

For the father who seemed small and weak

Among leaping giants.


I drove alone today,

Today I fell,

My skin is broken

Weeping blood from blood-soaked limbs.


The monster lurched to toss me overboard,

Growling, Hellhound

Branding me with pain and street

Trees fighting the sky as Im dragged away


Theres nothing behind my eyes as I give in


When the waves buried me

My father was there

To pull me out, laughing

He said, You did it

As I coughed and cried.


He props the motorcycle up,

Metal obeying strong arms,

And makes me climb back on

As if the nightmare didnt happen


You did this to me, I sit in the kitchen

Sorting the dust from the blood from the skin


You did this to me, coughing sea and sand and trust

I clutch his shoulder

Shaking, furiously shaking

Raging at the waves which tried to kidnap me


He laughs, and says, I did it.

And carries me home.