Jim Murphy

Surf Mechanics

Take one look at this woman more than chin-deep

in the blue Pacific — blue past the braids of foam

that skir against our bite-peppered ankles —

no thought beyond the stretching skip of palms

that rise and plunge on the ocean. Deliberate churning

stroke of a lifelong swimmer straight against the breaking waves.

Photographic flash of the sun and thunder heard through

a fog horn — whole body taut and pliant as the tide ordains.

If we were in St. Louis, each of us leaning against a leg

of that train-colored gateway to the West, I would whisper

something right that only you could hear, conveyed by lucky

accident of engineering. I don’t know if this is true myself —

but the notion makes good copy from eighteen hundred

miles away. Now look at how she’s changed her stroke,

about to edge out of our view.