Light Passes Through

by Katherine Allred

"Today the sea is flatter than
the flattest of my mother's daughters,"
my oldest brother says
as we drive up Highway 101.
With borrowed surfboards,
and secondhand wetsuits
we hit the waves
where the locals let us in.

Paddling out past the riptide
cradled in a circinate wave
I float while deciding
if I will return to shore.

My eyes follow the sunrays
below the surface of the gray water.
With an abalone shell
I cut off my breast,
drop it in the shoals,
catch a wave back in.

Twenty years later I return
on a different board
naked skin
diving deep past the light
to find my breast
and thicken my blood.

Beneath the waves I
open my cupped hands,
watch the fears swirl away
like broken shards of coral
swallowed by the reef.

The tide carries me back to shore
where I crawl up into a
windswept shipwreck,
the ribcage of a giant.
Each sunrise
the light passes through its bones.

I have remained
in this sheltered place
long enough.

In the morning I will go home.
Today the sea is cresting
high and wild,
rolling swollen waves
to the horizon.
Tomorrow the sea will be
as soft as the roundest
of my mother's daughters