“Wanna lay down?”
he asks, and you, English major
and struggling writer, have to bite
your tongue to keep
from correcting his grammar,
but you lie beside him,
his fleece jacket smelling of wood smoke
and water. When he kisses you
you taste salt, wind, the damp barnacles
clinging beneath the boat.
 
You weep before it’s over,
your face smeared against his shoulder.
It’s the blues that do you in,
the steady shuffling of waves,
the way the sky reflects the bay
as the boat tosses you like a baby
and then curls you up, fetal position.
All these years and you still
long to escape back to the womb.
 
“Honey,” he calls you. “Darling.” He’s
forgotten your name but so have you,
lost as you are in the blues and grays,
the slippery feel of water, the persistent
reek of fish and grit and rain.
“Stay,” he says, but you are already gone,
back to your house where you’ll eat
boxed macaroni and cheese and stare
out at the bay, the water,
the white-shadowed mountains
rising up like God, like the holy land,
like a promise you forgot to make,
the one you still won’t let yourself receive.

—Cinthia Ritchie
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Ritchie photo5Cinthia Ritchie writes and runs mountain trails in Alaska. She’s a two-time Pushcart Press nominee and recipient of a Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award, Connie Boochever Fellowship,  Brenda Ueland Prose Prize and residencies at Hedgebrook and Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. Find her work at Best American Sports Writing 2013, Sport Literate, Mary: A Journal of New Writing, Evening Street Review, Water-stone Review; New York Times Magazine, damselfly press, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, The Boiler Journal, Cactus Heart Press, Memoir, Little White Poetry Journal, Sugar Mule 42opus, Ghoti, Breadcrumb Scabs, Miller’s Pond and Third Wednesday. Her first novel, Dolls Behaving Badly, released from Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group.