Drifters & Fragment


I have been called low
But it is easy to pretend that
Swimming is like flying
With my webbed hands
Gliding over the flooded
Junktown feels like a vestigial
remnant of something
more exhilarating

People say I already sound like Gil
growing up; but he is hollow throated
Echoing and forktongued, his voice sounds
like someone blowing through a bottle
at a distance from their mouth;
We are thick as thieves
Crouching in the bushes where
the crickets rub their wings
and he gives the signal

The water is thick and bitter
So salty that the trash buoys on the surface
taking its time to sink and
rearrange into livable patterns
Light dances prismatic on the brown fronds:
slowing sticky and dirt deep
Death mimics life
where a toaster oven has settled
on top of a sunken bureau

Your presence sneaks up on me
so fast, like every other year
I am off guard
Always noticing the wrong things
Where was I looking
then, you tested the tall dunes with your foot
in a new pink and blue bathing suit
sick of burning crab apple cakes
for ungrateful dolls.

Pots and pans float by slow
Moving almost on their own
Over the still water like they have escaped
Gil is watching my snorkel
And for a second I go under
my breath hitches
I want to replicate your disappearing act
For days I was proud and thought you
a magician who would come back
to show us all
so I asked Gil
our mother
the neighbors
and my ouija board led me
back to the city of dunes,
humped like monstrous old men.

Goggles casting all the
World in green
I thought I had made contact
Not like on late night UFO
specials, but real pull
towards a cinched strand of hair:
just yellow rope tangling a wheel.

Gil’s call hoarse and warm
Pruny fingers push me on the dock
sputtering exhausted
He laughs at my shriveled nakedness and
raw palms, the snorkel protruding
like a feeler
Dragging out the silence
between us intermittently
after the seaweed trailing my toes.


His grandmother died in her sleep
In a rocking chair that his mom
Gave to salvation army. The nurses called her a cool customer
The hospital like an icebox, red and white
Candystriped for its pruny children:
Full of bad bones and begrudging mashed potato smell.
Standing by the piles of documentation
He was approached with accusations, a shining
papery woman said she knew all about what he did
with her sister in the Polish camp
trembling in her walker with the full
weight of truth, Far away
The stars in the suburb were like wormholes,
They looked like a soul’s prison break from The hard-bitten quiet;
moths had eaten through the sky fibers
Like it was an old sweater.

Nadya Kronis
Age 16, Grade 11
Stuyvesant High School
Gold Key

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