A man in orange trunks ducks under high breakers,
far from the lifeguard stands,
in the rip-tide sea.
The man recedes from view,
foisted to and fro all out to sea.
The guards detect a sliver of orange
bobbing like a buoy.
The craft dispatched,
rowers clamber on.
The boat pierces breakers like a bullet,
approaches the now vanished orange thread.
The man - retrieved,
plopped on sand like a noonday catch,
frantically pumped with mouth-to-mouth,
with chest thumping arms -
I have learned to swim across the current grabbing me;
I don't lash opposite the thrusts,
against the under tow.
As though it were a beloved
in a sudden mood -
bullheaded, dogged -
I match the current stroke for stroke,
kick across its belly,
until it tires of my moxie.
The sandpiper wears its white feather noose when grown,
is not strangled.
The seagull gobbles a plastic bag as hungrily as crab,
then scavenges a straw.
The duck quacks for more bread,
although, before dawn, a cat
caught the last of her eight ducklings.
Lifeguards keep watch
till Summer's end.
Sherri Felt Dratfield’s second collection of poetry, Water Vigils, was recently published by Finishing Line Press. The City, Sherri’s debut book of poetry was published in 2013. Joan Larkin recently selected Sherri’s poem "Hallelu" as a finalist in the Jewish Current’s Raynes Competition.