The Lawnmower Boys at 2 a.m. by Theresa Boyar
In the dream, I’m drowning again.
There’s a shudder of blades from above, thick
seam of wake stitching ocean to sky.
It only takes a second for propellers to thin
to a clatter of cruel machinery. Outside my window,
two boys are hightailing it along my street,
one of them pushing a lawnmower. It’s shameful
that I can’t remember the non-emergency number
read twice to me by the 911 lady.
Shameful that I probably know the neighbor
whose lawnmower has just been abducted,
possibly, quite possibly, have talked to her by the roadside,
or murmured with him over someone’s neglected yard.
And it’s shameful, unspeakably so, that I’m wondering
how it would feel to be the girlfriend of one of those boys,
the girl returned to after a night of criminal mischief,
hearts slamming together hard and insistent,
lifted bit of lawn equipment like a hostage behind us.
Instead, I finger my frayed hem while I repeat
the incident to the operator, and there’s a sinking
and swaying in my chest, a rising of waters.
My voice is a thin strand pulled loose
from my throat, something threaded through me,
but not mine. Surely not mine. It goes on
about teenagers and disrespect,
and when it gets to the nerve, the goddamn
unbelievable nerve, I may as well be back in the ocean,
thirteen, drifting farther than allowed.
The voice is one that comes from my mother
standing on the shore, unaware her words can’t touch me
because she doesn’t understand this ocean
is mine. Everywhere I look, I see myself in it.
The knots around my neck and back
are a temporary disturbance. I undo my suit
and swim further and I don’t think about
how the waves carry the little bit of red cloth
coast-bound. I don’t think about what will wash up,
how my mother will stop shouting when the suit
floats around her ankles, how she’ll look down
and then up again, eyes refocusing on the gray anarchy
of waves, which will offer her nothing anymore
but shorn horizon and a vacant, unraveling sea.