Warnings Posted at Pompano Beach

by Amy Parkes

Wet sleek pelicans—still
growing into huge shoulders and deep keels,

faithful to their hunger—
vanish fearless into the water.

Of us, they are more like you.
What would I learn living only as far in my future

as one more brave act? These birds
drop into the waves three foam crests back

from the drag of the ocean’s
dead seaweed roil. A beach attendant opens a blue

umbrella beside me. Shade blooms.
Don’t, says the stranger. My hands feel sunhot.

But he can’t see my fingernails
revisiting scars from your latest disappearance.

He means the red king tide; warning me
away from its sickly wind. He can’t see my heart

& the trench where you sway
like an anchored buoy in heavy surf. You insist:

Trust me. You say
I mean it this time. You say I am here. Look.

Amy Parkes is a queer Nova Scotia poet living with mental illness. Her poetry appears in the Bacopa Literary Review and Barrelhouse Magazine, among others, and new poems are forthcoming with The Fiddlehead, the North Carolina Literary Review, and Grist Journal. Parkes’ first piece of creative nonfiction appears in Studies in Canadian Literature.

Artwork by: Bennie Lukas Bester