Mallory Tater

Unbendable Light

The ocean will not swallow us
if Grandpa is watching. In photographs,
he faces away from the water, says the thought
of his mother dries his throat—her unbendable
light, her blue dresses. Centennial Beach, Grandpa,
twenty years sober, my arms around his neck. I am
naked but for beach shoes. My shadow cuts
his ribs in half. Behind us, my sister holds
Semiamhoo Bay between her outstretched hands.
Like an accordion, she drains its civic
sound. Grandpa combs the beach, waist-deep
in seaweed, a tennis ball in his pocket
from when he owned a German Shepherd.
My sister is first to fly in the up-wash, each wave
wing tipped, cawing at us. Grandpa pops
his diuretics in the parking lot, swallows them
dry, the rind of his sunburnt heel
on gravel. He tells me when his mother
could no longer walk, she’d put all
her weight on her wrists, for a moment, rise
from her walker handlebars, joints
clinking like keys. For a moment, he says,
her whole body in flight.

Mallory Tater is a poetry and fiction writer from Ottawa. Her writing has been published in PRISM International, CV2, The Malahat Review, Petal Journal, Poetry is Dead, Little Fiction, The Maynard, Cede Poetry, Canthius & others. A member of CWILA, she was short-listed for Arc Poem of the Year Contest in 2015 and recently received an Honourable Mention for CV2’s 2015 Young Buck Poetry Prize. She is a Masters student at the University of British Columbia. @malatonin