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  You could have a big dipper   

In Her Wake by Marisa P. Clark

came pain, like a flood, like a storm

surge that rammed my shore. What began

as a beautiful, beguiling body

of water—undulant, hypnotic waves

without whitecap or riptide—pushed past

my barrier islands, swept me off

my feet, keeled me over, took me

under, took me deep. How close I came

to drowning. The world I’d known

transformed. Trees were uprooted, dragged

into the ocean. Every place we’d frequented—

café, bookstore, supermarket, the neighborhood

we’d strolled, and my own home—

was unmoored, torn to splinters, bricks,

and jags of glass that thrashed

and flayed me. Engulfed, I had no choice

but to take it, to go

with the unpredictable, battering flow. I

held my breath and waited. Like every

tide, pain subsides with time, and when

this brute tide finally ebbed, she

was long gone. I stood, a tattered

castaway on shaky legs, and surveyed

the littered strand. What could I salvage

from the damage? Everything familiar still

wore the imprint of her passage. I blinked

toward the neat line of the horizon, where

blue sky met blue ocean—

how it glittered

with serene deception.


Marisa P. Clark is a queer writer whose work appears in Shenandoah, Cream City Review, Nimrod, Epiphany, Foglifter, Rust + Moth, Texas Review, and elsewhere. Best American Essays 2011 recognized her nonfiction among its Notable Essays. She hails from the South and lives in the Southwest. Follow @Professor_Gaga.

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