Class by the Sea
After lunch, the teacher makes us stare
at the line between the sky and the water
to improve our vision. Mostly I am thinking
of this summer’s shell gathering at low tide,
a huge sea anemone blooming
in the cave Maya and I happened on.
The bully whispers from behind me:
Hit your head on the corner of a tofu
and die! Still, I feel serene knowing
I have seen what he hasn’t,
a pact I made with Maya not to tell.
A secret is always an unearthly flower
that protects you with its invisible
tentacles. I glance at Maya who is
staring at the sea in earnest.
We are selective when forming
a society, though she won’t remember
me after my change of schools
and years later, in my dream,
her timid voice will only cast a shadow
the size of a sparrow. We loved
the anemone’s green flesh like
the surprising richness of a fear
we hadn’t known. Even when I am no longer
a child, I won’t be able to name or
claim each thing that blooms in the dark.
Alone I see it grow without tending,
never reaching the stage to swim away.