Here we have paddle-outs for boys reclaimed
by tropical storms like beached starfish
tossed back into the ocean’s throat.
We have boardwalks and bouquets of sea oats,
loosing our dunes, our salty eyelashes
and shell-speckled soles, being completely lost
like a tourist or the counterpart to a board
washed ashore. We have smoke and weed and
the plane that crashed next to the Lutheran school.
But there are no ghosts to haunt or to haunt us.
Only the end zone of ocean, endless Atlantic,
saltmarshes and waterway spanned by a swing
bridge with the world on one side, our crab nets
on the other. Here, we have the fisherman Jesus
and the surfer Jesús. Here, we have the fisherman
Jesus reeling in the surfer Jesús. We all want fathers
for the friends who have lost them. We want ocean
rising to meet us like Main Street during
the Irish-Italian fest, to sweep away the strangers
who whisper céad míle fáilte, who were brought here
inside waves of leather and machine cavalries
flowing from Ohio, flooding the island, turning
guardrails to rotini, we want them taken back
the same way, because all we want is to buy
palmetto roses for our motherswho held us so tightly
when we were spit upfrom the surf, water pouring
out our noses. Mothers who appreciate the resilience
of our bodies, who believe in the goodness of a tumble
in saline, being washed around in the blueout
and the blackness and seasalt panic, of scraping a knee
on the bottom of the world before surfacing again,
that bit of fear that reminds you
MCKAYLA CONAHAN is a queer non-binary poet, drag king, and MFA candidate at Virginia Commonwealth University. They were raised in South Carolina and received a degree in Astronomy from the College of Charleston. They have been published in Sweet, Rabbit Poetry, Sink Hollow, Miscellany, and have been awarded the South Carolina Academy of Authors Student Poetry Prize. They currently reside in Richmond with their Australian Shepherd, Nanuk.