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To the Swimmer at Dollymount, Who Wanted to Die But Became a Merman Instead


Abigail Myers

I will wait for you on the beach at Montauk,
with a plate of fried shrimp
and a beer. You will lift your head
from its pillow of water-worn rock,
peel the seaweed wrapped around the gashes
that were gills until just now.
Dry air will set your lungs aflame.

On torpid legs you will stagger up the hill—
look up and I will meet you there,
take your cold hand, lead you to the eastern shore
of the West. I wanted to die,
you will begin, the arms of the ocean
to deliver me—

But you didn’t, I will say, the sea
had other plans for you, made you its own
then washed you up, salt-baptized,
pale as a whale’s belly. Eat.
You will say, Where am I?
How long have I been gone?

And I will say, What kind of man
do you want to be now,
now that the sea has given you back?

You will look back to the old country,
but not for long. You will say,
I can lay stone, I can bake bread,
I can sing babies to sleep, and I will say,
And you thought the ocean would keep you.

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Abigail Myers writes poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction on Long Island, New York. Her work has recently appeared in The Other Journal, Hearth and Coffin, Roi Fainéant, Phoebe, Variant Literature, Milk Candy Review, Full Mood Mag, Icebreakers Lit, and more. Keep up with her at and @abigailmyers.

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