KINA M. VIOLA
I arrive late to my own baptism. I take my time, throwing towel on sand and baking
in sun, humidity drawing sweat from my pores without asking. Brown water
stretches for at least a mile like skin over the earth. Beside me a child makes
castles in coastal dirt, a man-made coast, a small lake called Sardis where couples
float on water hot as air, opaque.
A bag of potato chips rolls by, kisses the water’s edge. If this were a dream, I would
remove my bathing suit, these patches covering what fig leaves would, and walk along
the water. I would walk on top of water to the other side, past the naval base,
highway, the crooked edges of state lines to remember where I came from, where
there is left to go. I’d stop to collect reds: sunsets, clay dirt, New England foliage,
my blood, my family tree, my lover, my reds sewn into a patchwork dress, shades
down my back, clothed in place.
A boy is dropped into the water, mother serious as a priest. When he emerges, his
cry is more beautiful than a fiddle, more beautiful than the natural hum of the trees
here, insects holding one note in collective meditation. He breathes. Splutters,
smiles, kicks water at his sister.
I am more tentative, submerge myself slowly into body-temperature waters. Below me I
watch fish dart into where I cannot see, murky past my waist. Fish that didn’t make
it float belly up, smaller than my thumb, boiled. Somehow the others keep on going.
They move their fins, no smell of death on the water. The family’s on the beach
now, eating sandwiches, forming a ring on the surface of this sand-planet. This
dirty lake with its flawed dark waters suddenly so much like us.
Kina is a recent grad of tiny Hamilton College and currently resides in northern Mississippi with her two cats and boyfriend. She works in non-profit and occasionally tests recipes for the perfect whiskey sour. Writing has appeared in Welter, Crack the Spine, and other journals.