Robin Rosen Chang


My mother’s arm reaches
                        out of the water
                             and slides back in.

Then the other arm. Repeatedly,
                        they appear and disappear
                                   as they move her through the turbulent ocean. 

                                           She’s swimming diagonal to the shoreline,
                          almost like someone
             caught in a riptide.

                    But she’s not. She’s going calmly—
      of her own volition, retreating

     from the beach where I lie. 
I squeeze my shut eyes hard.

                        A sliver of her face
                 appears, a waning moon,
      when her head turns

                                      after every second stroke. Her mouth opens
                          just enough
          to pull in air that holds life in her.

                          Fixed on something
                                            she seems to see, 
                                                         she keeps going.

She doesn’t struggle.                             
     The current
             doesn’t batter her.
                      It doesn’t carry her off. 

She’s a white spot in the water—
she’s taking herself away—