by Madison Jones
Aubade, Anastasia Island
Chest deep in the green water, I see them
balanced on their toes, current pulling the pair
from where they folded rings in their shirts,
waded out into the rough tide. See them
stoned and smiling in the choppy surf.
Buoyed on the trough, he bends
out of sight beneath the water and lifts her
over a wave’s crest as if in succeeding frames.
The moment before and the moment after,
each in a place its own size. A gull hovers
above the sunbathers as she tosses back her hair
sending droplets into a coming breaker.
The gull dithers on the warm breeze
until it flies north in a flash toward the filled-in
salt marshes and the coquina quarry, disappearing
where sunlight presses its bristles into sargassum.
The light entering and the water swelling
like questions out of the bright distance.
How they beat toward that lull between waves.
How the afternoon tide carries them further away.
Now swimming together, now drifting apart
in the blue arrow of each rippling swell. This one
sends him upwards as she throws herself before it,
letting the endless intervals heave her all the way
to the shoreline. Then she turns and paddles back
once more toward him where he waits, floating
out into the cloudless breath of horizon
and laughing as if remembering how.
Madison Jones is an assistant professor of Writing & Rhetoric and Natural Resources Science at the University of Rhode Island. He received his Ph.D. in Writing Studies from the University of Florida in May 2020. He is the author of the poetry collections Losing the Dog (Salmon Poetry, 2023) and Reflections on the Dark Water (Solomon & George, 2016). His poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Michigan Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, and elsewhere. Find out more at madisonpjones.com or follow him on Twitter @poetrhetor.
Stuart Baker Hawk is a resident of Portugal via Washington state. He has an MFA in creative writing from Mississippi University for Women and humbly enjoys the publication of his work in print and online.