Lisa del Rosso

Edward Hopper, Rooms by the Sea, 1951


Tell my mother to remember me
surrounded by water
at 10
laughing lips blue
waving not drowning
ignoring her cries
to swim back to

Tell her I was happiest
in water
she knows this
she must remember when
Kelly and I swam past the breakwater
waves suddenly churning
casting us both
onto barnacled rocks

Kelly bloodied
her father sprayed
Solarcaine on her shredded legs
that’s all there was
in the Cape Cod cottage Kelly
screaming in pain

We were back beyond the breakwater
the next day

Tell my mother the harbormaster
could not have known
the sudden gale
not his fault
no one to blame
Mother Nature takes
what and who and when
she wants

In another time
I’d have made
a life
in that glorious
seaside town we sailed from
but then
I would not have become
all she wanted
after my father left

Tell her the water has
been my home
as much as anywhere else
more constant
more soothing
like a best friend who
strokes my brow
and asks
no questions

Tell my mother to remember me
surrounded by water
enveloped in the blue sea
back where I

Lisa del Rosso’s most recent book, You Are All a Part of Me, a memoir-in-essays, was published in 2021. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Huffington Post, VietnamWarPoetry, Sowing Creek Press and Serving House Journal. She teaches writing at New York University.

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Fall 2021