Anchored Boat Lullaby by Dale Champlin

but I split wrong. Only my mind split—
into an array of sirens with
show tunes played in between them.

-Max Ritvo, “Stalking My Ex-Girlfriend in a Pasture”

That night the three of us shared a banana split—
chocolate, vanilla, strawberry—butterscotch drizzles,
sprinkles, and whipped cream. We dressed to the
nines—nothing unnatural between us.

Tony Randall, Jack Benny, and Fred Astaire crooned
and tripped behind us—Ziggy Stardust at the microphone.
We presented identical as the Triplets of Belleville
two sirens and a monster, the three of us cleaved 

like a bolt of forked lightning—although a hundred times
more deadly. Check out our hairdos, flipped, ratted,
and coiled. We sang like canaries—criminal and complicit.
There in the dusk we larked above phosphorescent water.

Schools of happy blue-eyed fish, joyous as raisins
in rice pudding, darted through aqua shoals. Ships bobbed
like children’s sand pails dotting the crests and swells. And
down below, in the ballrooms of the sea, those sailors,

jolly lifeguards, never shouted—Help me!
I don’t know how to swim, sinking in their goggles
and nose plugs, snorkeling the tempestuous breakers
until they could fall no further.

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