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Ingrid Lilligren


D. Marquart

And so you came to realize that a married man
is like a drowning victim, when you find him
drenched, adrift and unhappy in the vast ocean
of his marriage, and you will always be the first
to spot him, a floating speck on the horizon
flapping his arms for rescue, desperate mouth
ringing an o above the rolling crests and waves.

You are on the high dry deck of the cruise ship
In your espadrilles and crisp white shorts,
aren't you the beacon, aren't you the life preserver.

And when you jump into the sea salt foam,
if only for a refreshing swim, you understand

that he will seize upon you, strong buoyant
swimmer that you are, grab your shoulders,

pull your head under with his weight, so dense
in the water. And down among the reefs

and coral, with your new copper-coin eyes,
you will see how he rides on the shoulders

of his water-breathing sea horse wife,
and his mermaid mistresses, those water nymph

former lovers, and a whole tag-team pyramid
of three-breasted women who have tried

over the years to save him. Even then,
next time, when you see another one

go under, does it give you pause,
does it stop you from jumping in—

no, not once, not ever.