by Aaron Brown
In low tide, you can walk the cove—
it comes to shoulder height
and at high tide, you have to row
your way to the outcrop of rock
where Indian Ocean crabs
try their best to stay dry,
moving from sand to boulder
as the waves rise up
into the million crags of home.
I came here once with my brother.
We beached our boat and floated
in nearby shallows, watching
the ephemeral fish as the hours went away
with the waves. Returning to rock,
we found our boat gone with the tide.
In the distance, rising and falling,
its blue plastic hull burst surface.
My brother tried to swim the current—
water pushing back his every stroke,
but there was nothing to be done
except watch the boat get carried away,
further and further, beyond our little
rock island. My brother
slowed in the current, turning back.
I waited to ask why he couldn’t outswim
the current, why he’d left the boat
basking on the bar—
and as he took in each breath,
his body heaving wave-like,
the crabs appeared from the crags
of the hollowed stone
as my brother returned, our figures huddled
along the shore, waiting
for the tide to subside. §
Aaron Brown was born in Texas and raised in Chad. He now lives with his wife, Melinda, in Kansas, where he is an Assistant Professor of Writing & Editing at Sterling College. He has been anthologized in Best New African Poets and has received Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. Learn more at: aaronbrownwriter.com