Late summer’s clouds flame-out. The cresting sun-
rise slashes pink and mauve upon the sea.
One might mistake Frank for some favorite son.
The choppy tides turn blue, then blind, with sun.
The warped docks won’t stop creaking. Nobody
else around. Within his gaze, Frank blinks sun-
spots. Worse, he feels the sweaty sting of sun-
screen running down his eyes: his vision waves;
the clammy air still lingers from a damn heatwave.
He drags his shifty fingers through his sun-
kissed, bleached-blonde hair. A pier near jagged rocks.
Young men walk on the beach. Frank’s stomach rocks,
or is it just the tilting wharf which rocks?
The young men laugh, one sprawling out to sun
himself, bare-chested, muscles hard as rock.
Another sways, his boombox playing rock-
n-roll, its feedback echoed with the sea.
“Hey, you. Come here,” the man who’s blasting rock
says. Fear. Frank feels the salt-spray dashed on rock;
wind take his breath away. “Buddy, we need one more body
to set sail. We don’t want, well, just anybody—
we’d like someone who’s strong. I’ll teach. I’ve rock
solid skills.” The handsome men all wave
to Frank, come on. What could it hurt? He waves
back sure—then finds himself out on the waves;
homes shrink to small dollhouses. They’re cutting rock
and rolling E. The yacht yaws with each wave.
They offer some to Frank. He thanks them; waves
it off. No thanks. Noon drinks all shadows. Sun
poison. Frank spews up rum. A rankled wave
of pleasure spills—he barely sees the gale flags wave
on buoys. Two men passed out. They’re far to sea,
far gone. The fairest boy jumps in the sea
with nothing on: he’s swallowed by a wave.
Frank spies one swift, nude rocket shoot, his body
breaking with white spray—his heaving body
gasps for air—goes down. Now, if anybody
could transport them back! The boy doesn’t wave
but drowns. Into the pounding swells, his body
plunges under, lost within that body
of water. Darkness cradles where the rollers rock
light veins upon the surface like a body’s
skin made radiant. Frank dives in, holds the body,
this boy who’s sure to be a brother, son,
gathering him up, and cants his head to sun—
he clasps the boy’s limp flesh to his own body.
Both soused and choked; the restless waters seize
them. Frank splutters; listens as the boy’s lungs cease.
Frank lunges up the ladder from the sea
and lugs behind the boy’s numb limbs. The body
is a burden, hung like deadweight, filled with sea
water. It sinks with wrack. Frank can hardly see
what beckons. A beacon shines. One cresting wave,
arrested, shatters all the wreckage of the sea.
He grips the boy up when the groping sea’s
mad thrashing spells. On deck, he combs the rock-
weed from his mouth. He’s lifeless as a rock.
Frank tries to pump him back alive… Deceased.
The terns cry overhead. From their brief sun-
stroked blackouts, the boy’s stout mates revive. “Son
of a bitch, we take a cruise to catch some sun,
and wake to find you killed our friend?” Frank hits rock
bottom then. They reach the wharf. Frank hears a wave
of sirens. Coastguard stop and cuff Frank’s body…
Sandbars spray up rough; trade-winds chop dark sea.
Will Cordeiro has recent work appearing or forthcoming in Agni, Cimarron Review, The Cincinnati Review, DIAGRAM, Poet Lore, Rust + Moth, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, The Threepenny Review, and elsewhere. Will won the 2019 Able Muse Book Award for Trap Street. Will co-edits the small press Eggtooth Editions. Currently, Will teaches in the Honors College at Northern Arizona University.