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Playa Sucia

Brendan Basham

Some time ago we’re kids. After the bad, before the bad, because it can’t be always. Such puny waves we dive into. A shift in weight, dry to wet. Spit out the salt. Swim swim little lovers. Cal- low like mice we are. The stuff of summer. Mouth cheek. Lick mine if lick yours. Lips to hand, lip to lip catch time, but it’s not real. She tucks her face, peeks her eyes above the water. The crocodile hunting bovid in the sun. Out of water. Oysters from the oyster man. More drinks as the sun dives. Drive home brown on brown. Shiver from the heat. Nerve drunk. We are so young. Hidden behind hardness, quick to be too careful of hurt. How do you know love if you don’t learn the pain of it? Some bar now with pool. There’s a band, sous chef openly flirting. She, sus- ceptible, turns predator in fear of being prey. This is not enough, maybe. One suitor, two, sous jumps and she jumps with. Splash in the dark, kicking away, paddle forward, twirl and kiss. We turn to hide the hurt. Nova super heart. Climbs out sits next to. Wish was me, we say. She says me too. Look into the other. Reckless breath. Failure of dumb heart slow brain. Young should be grab me now sweep me up take me away. But no. She leaves tomorrow. She swims away so we are never.

Brendan Basham is Diné, born in Alaska and raised in northern Arizona. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Santa Fe Literary Review, Red Ink, Yellow Medicine Review, Juked, and Sheepshead Review. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts and is working on his first novel.