A Space for Writers of the World
Giddy with his new discovery
of measurement, my son dips
a discarded plastic zip tie into the water.
He drags a diamond into the sand
with his heel, surveys the receding tide
in a frenzy then shucks his shoes
to climb the silver fluke of a scuffed statue.
Two women near the swings
sip coffee and squint into the horizon
as they debate The Indian Child Welfare Act.
J Pod is sometimes sighted
in the deep channel off Alki Beach,
speaking a language, scientists hypothesize,
unique unto itself.
The smallest of the two women
tugs at her top and shivers,
latching an infant to her breast
then zipping her back
into the neoprene shell of her ski coat.
Chilled and tired, my son
raises his arms to be carried.
At our feet, two girls sing
a call and response from a pre-school cartoon:
Shapes are everywhere.
They sit toe to toe in the sandbox
rolling a ball back and forth.
They’re in everything we chose to see.
Like me, like them, my son
tends to follow statements
with a laid back affirmative.
Northwestern: you know what I mean?
After his birth, I pumped milk
all through the early mornings
with one manic eye
to the nature documentaries on Nova.
Scratchy footage from the year of my birth
showed marine park employees
catching juvenile whales in the Puget Sound.
My own output was meager and lavender skim.
One time in ten,
fumbling exhausted, I poured the milk
straight into the bottle, plastic liner forgotten
so that it splashed weakly
across the granite countertop,
rendering the weak, synthetic wail
that could be programed into the breast pump
to enhance the let-down reaction, unnecessary.
When I was small,
my mom once confessed
her great wish
to jump from the back
of a ferry and swim
back to her childhood
vacation home on Orcas Island.
My finger traced the white spots
on a killer whale key chain
as she talked, stunned by her audacity
to yearn for anything but me.
Laura Da’ is a poet and a public school teacher. A lifetime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Da’ studied creative writing at the University of Washington and The Institute of American Indian Arts. Da’ is an enrolled member of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. She has published poems in Prairie Schooner, Hanging Loose, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. Her first chapbook,The Tecumseh Motel, is soon to be published in Effigies II, and the University of Arizona Press will publish her first full-length manuscript, Tributaries, in 2015. Da’ lives near Seattle with her husband and son.