after Richard Siken
Say you’re at the beach. You’re at the beach because your father wanted to go to the beach. You’re at the beach because your mother’s started talking about turning into glass and you’d wanted to show her the sand, to press it between her fingers, behind her eyes, down her throat, and say this is what we’d need to become. You’re at the beach because you love your mother, and you love your father, and—no? Okay. Say you’re at the beach. You’re at the beach because your father’s never been to the beach, because you’re tired of things that don’t have an edge. Because even land can’t go on forever, and you need to know that things end. You kneel down into the sand because you’re tired of kneeling on things that don’t make room for your knees. You’re tired of bruises. Bruises are the craters you left on the apples you threw at the wall when you were a kid. Bruises are what happens when something is thrown against a wall. You didn’t bring an apple to the beach, or your father, which is just as well. Throw an apple at the beach and there’s nothing for it to bounce off of. Push somebody against the sea and they fall right through. They fall forever. That’s why your father never pushed you against the sea. That’s why you’re at the beach. Get up. By now your bones are malleable as clay, as water. The skin of an apple. Your mother’s hands. She wants to turn to glass, something you can see through without seeing at all. To make glass you need sand, and heat. The sand is easy enough: grab a handful and swallow it. To come home is to become hollow, after all, and the sand will spill all over your childhood bed. Easy enough. For the heat, you need friction: two things pressed so close together they bruise every time they move. For friction, you need pressure. Bruises. You need to go home. Your father wants you home, where he has his walls. Your mother wants to turn to glass, and the process has already started. Some days, you don’t see your mother at all. Say she wanted you to go to the beach. Say she wants you to tell her what it feels like, at the edge of land and sea, and you want to tell her. So you walk until the waves batter at your ankles. Don’t look too closely at your reflection. As long as you don’t settle, the sea remains nameless. As long as you don’t see who looks back at you, you don’t know who you’ve brought with you. Who you can never lose. His hold on you, inescapable as the moon’s hold of the tides. Your father never brought you to the beach. Your father says you are never alone at the beach. Get out of the water. Too long in the waves and they start to leave bruises—too long in the waves and you’ll bring them home with you. Say you’re at the beach, and you hear someone call your name, the water reflecting their face like glass, like sand under pressure, and you feel waves bruising the marrow of your ribs like your father’s hands. Say you’re never going home. Say you don’t know how to leave. You hear your father calling, his voice under your skin like a bruise. Say you’ve never been to the beach, but you tried, once. Say you’re falling into the sand, into the sea. Here, there is nothing to break your fall.
Sandhya Ganesan is a student and writer from the Bay Area. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Blue Marble Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, and elsewhere. She is the editor-in-chief of Saffron Lit and an alum of the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program. Find her on Twitter @sungslept.