Riptide

by ERIN JONES

 

 

You fill saltshakers
by the window, your spills forming new oceans
in rings on the bar—

old beer, wasted Stoli, 
night sweats of the lonely men that lean here. 
This place is a tangle

of gross love, 
eyes like mites against any drift of skin.
How to fight

the current, riptide
you paddled through as a child? You were flagging
your mother 

who warmly waved back
from the beach. When you hit solid ground,
sea-lunged, slung 

against sand, 
didn’t you worship every bean clam
that tongued

its way deeper
into pits? You no longer pulled them up
by the handfuls

just to watch
them dig into the nothingness
of your palm.