DS Maolalai, The beachcomber

The beachcomber

waking as sunlight
throws tide to the headboard
and pushing with panic –
a half-drowning sailor,
retching and coughing up shore.

I check my alarm clock. still an hour
in bed. I settle a moment,
then wake again properly –
chrys, at the cupboards,
is already dressed.
I struggle to sit
up in sweat-soaking
bedclothes; she says “no”
and points out a full coffee cup.
then bends over,
kisses me,
tells me that she
has to go – it’s work.

like a seagull
or a scuttling
crab, she suffers my flails
at affection. a pity I live
so far away
that she must get up this early, with the sun
burning like a broken
beach. I say,
“I love you”
and she smiles.

words collapse, coughing their guts up. choking
and choking
on sand.

DS Maolalai has received nine nominations for Best of the Net and seven for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in three collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden (Encircle Press, 2016), Sad Havoc Among the Birds (Turas Press, 2019), and Noble Rot (Turas Press, 2022). Read more of him here.

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