based on the painting “Les baigneuses” by Pablo Picasso
you almost drowned that day, as we drank
in the sun by the coast. I mistook your flailing
arms for ones of praise, for the ocean smelt like safety.
I was selfishly tempting the rays to coat
me with a new skin, while she braided her salted hair and
you inhaled mouthfuls of souls lost at sea. When rescued,
all you said was:
“What a day.” And yes, the sand absorbed with ease between our toes
and the waves’ tantrum ended –
but it was the day. We became women who had to put on sunscreen
and eat three full meals and
lie in bed for a day after heartbreak.
My skin was coated with rules and reminders
and her hair was braided with questions
and your lungs inhaled fear.
We were different.