In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Riptide Milagro, and: On the Malecón
  • Dana Roeser (bio)

Riptide Milagro

Late in   the day when Lucy   was packing up all her things—the   towels sun tan lotion   orange beach umbrella—   I saw a gull proudly high up   in the sky flashing   something silver just   beneath it parallel—I’d   seen this before   the proud conquest   the victory lap the brandishing   of the silver trophy   in distended claws like an underneath   side car back to the dunes   to eat it   so I had a pretty good idea [End Page 7]   what I was looking   at. I said Look look   and she said I’m trying   to pack up all this   stuff. Her friend Ava looked for a   moment polite half-thrilled as it turned   slightly adjusted its flight path.   Then as it straightened out I saw it   in profile the gull   flapping forward and then   the silver object in perfect side view   a definitive fish-shape. Like   a piece of jewelry a fetish   a filled-in fish symbol   like one you might see on the   back of a car signifying a not-so-secret   allegiance to Jesus. Or a milagro.

  What would it be the miracle [End Page 8]   for then? A good catch or to return   safely from the sea? Not   the well-being of a breast a leg   a torso. Perhaps Ava’s mentally   ill mother who fills notebooks   with hypergraphia— all gibberish   Ava says except a few numbers   and occasionally some set prayers. Don   chimes in helpfully   at the dinner table “Religiosity!” Ava   is matter-of-fact; she never   really knew her mother   otherwise. I will attempt   similar equanimity. Our daughter Eleanor’s trickery   abandonment. On the lam   in France. Through which   lens are we supposed   to see them again? [End Page 9]   We know very little. Lithium.   Pot. Alcohol. Delusions. Relapse.   Hapless boyfriend whose image   she twists her mind   in the service of. His feckless   parents. The “less” words. As in   “No love lost.”

  Frances my elderly father’s   “girl”friend told us yet another   story last night   about the sea taking a   child. His brother was saved   by a passerby but the younger child   slipped from the rescuer’s grasp   submerged and sucked out   by the riptide. Now all the parents   read it— the helicopters   all night—in the paper and are [End Page 10]   cautious. And Lucy and Ava   are frolicking there in that same surf   every day.

Let it be   silver fish Jesus “Ichthys”   for Ava and Lucy then for   Ava’s hyper-religious Mary-worshipping   mother for Eleanor—once   upon a time, she took to   Catholicism like a   fish to water. Silver milagro,   amulet ex voto dije   sea gull’s souvenir   of the riptide— “this is my   body which will be   given up for you”—about   to be taken to a sand   dune live and   devoured shining. [End Page 11]

On the Malecón

Family vacation, Hotel el Pescador, Puerto Vallarta

My self   is like breath on

    glass. My name lifts off

  like a cloud like when you press

  and drag     the cursor

the print lifts off   print, a shadow of the whole phrase

    wandering. At night I anchor

  myself down     with two winter

blankets—in the tropical   heat—

    to keep from floating up.

  The woman squealed     as she was lifted

from the beach   on the boat-pulled [End Page 12]

    parachute— a child playing in

  the surf     almost got

tangled   in the lines. The operator, holding

    the woman by the shoulder,

  had to motion the child away. I saw her rise

  up up, still     pale, with her

mouse-colored   ponytail,

  and squealing, till she was something in

  the sky and I wondered how they would get her

  down—what maneuver     of the little faraway

boat? While up the beach   beside the malecón

    a man sold     plastic representations [End Page 13]

one could hold     on a string like a kite

  the flapping plastic     multi-colored umbrella dome

with diamond slit cutouts, like   the real thing, and the blue-

    or pink-clad plastic action figure dangling improbably

  below. Such is     me in paradise—trying

in vain to get coordinates on   my wayward 18-year-old

    orange-and-red-diaphanous full-length...


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