Canzone 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.