by Danielle Susi
I took Jimmy down there once to look at all of the houseboats lined up. Like soldiers out there. Front line. Great heaviness on scaffolds and metal frames up off the ground.
We saw one sinking once. The ass-end in the ocean, still tied up to the rotting posts of the dock. I wish I knew the name of it. Some beast built for roughness, suspended mid-waterline. Its artifacts floating around it, some grinding up against the dock and the other boats: a single life preserver, unidentified scraps of plastic, a strip of foam peeled away from the inside of the cabin.
Jimmy was so little then and I was holding his hand tight. Made him stand far back away from the water because I could swim but not well enough to save a sinking toddler.
A drowning fiberglass mammoth. Tired sunken stern. Jimmy said Oh no, Mama, it’s under the water. When we went home we watched the news on the television because even though Jimmy is little he still likes the flashing of the screen. Two fire trucks collided in San Francisco and it sent one into a Chinese food restaurant.
We liked takeout a lot. The place we order from was in the news last month because allegedly they were using cat ribs and passing them off as beef. So we just stopped ordering the spare ribs. We like sushi too. My husband likes eel but I don’t eat that. Looks too much like snakes.
A snake swam right past Jimmy when we took him to the lake last summer. He didn’t see it, thank God, but it squiggled behind him while I froze mid-sand, eyes wide, yelling to my husband S-N-A-K-E. S-N-A-K-E in the W-A-T-E-R. Right behind J-I-M-M-Y.
Jimmy was sitting quietly in three inches of water, diaper inflated with lake, and looked to me holding up a red plastic tug boat. Play, Mama, play. So I sat my ass down into the sand next to him and pretended my hand was a breaching whale. He held up the tugboat again. Play this, Mama. He laughed his shrill little giggle as I maneuvered the toy through pretend waves and it dipped a little below the surface.
When I handed it back to him, he refused it and told me More, Mama, more.
I pushed the plastic boat around, and then suddenly against buoyancy, straight down to the bottom.
Danielle Susi is the author of the chapbook “The Month in Which We Are Born” (Dancing Girl Press). Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Knee-Jerk Magazine, Hobart, The Rumpus, among others. Recently, Newcity named her among the Top 5 Emerging Chicago Poets.