CWI November 2019 Winner

In Waves

James Croal Jackson


It comes in waves, the grief, though you laugh

as you say so, because we are in the Atlantic,

children again, uppercutting large tides,

and I never learned to swim, but the saying–

the metaphor– is true, the water is relentless,

and we were states away from the hospital,

where your father was, when you got the

call, and later, in our hotel’s game room,

there was a balancing act– you, your family,

the ping-pong paddles on the black table,

the plastic balls rolling slowly onto the floor

at the end of another meaningless game, the

bouncing, then physics, entropy ending–

how else to reconcile lost time? This dusting,

this airing out, now, swimsuits soaked from

the salt of the sea, this fabric, this residue

dripping off of this vacation into the old

Civic, the broken A/C, the windows’ open

breeze, silence of the road lodged between

green hills, so endless, our breathing.