The whole house straightens its spine in the heat
while I make beds with sharper
corners, snapping Cape Ann into these new sheets
that have never seen the coast.
Standing in the middle of the driveway,
your eyes are on the stream of cars sliding west.
You shuffle closer to me, so the burnt pads of your feet are
balanced on the bridges of my own,
your arms fastened around my waist, your smile pushed into my stomach.
This is nothing like our ocean,
I tell you when you first see the lake,
but you cannot find where the water ends, and that is enough for you.
It is too hot here some days to do anything but wait,
so I teach you patience by
putting your dirty feet in sneakers, and prayer by
cutting your wild hair short and
giving it to the birds.
for days you ask me how they will know it is from you.
Your palms keep finding the phantom of your waves at the nape of your neck.
Someday, the water from the lake will be pulled inland,
the same blue as the veins in a baby’s wrist,
and no one will notice but the boy
with robin’s nest curls, who lets the tide wash his feet clean
praying in the only way he still knows how,
remembering his mother tying his shoes and scrubbing his face,
the pad of her thumb on the bridge of his nose.
Emma Crockford lives in Massachusetts and dreams of warmer weather. Her interests include goats that look like old men and dogs that look like their owners. In 2015, Emma was chosen to attend Grub Street’s Young Adult Writer’s Fellowship. Emma is the founder and editor of her school newspaper. Emma’s work has appeared in or is upcoming in Gravel, The Noisy Island, Teen Ink’s Print Magazine, Parallax, and Grub Street’s Fellowship Anthology. Her work has won honorable mention and semi-finalist awards in two national high school poetry competitions.