Woods Hole 2007 040
The Sands Shifted Under Us Like Pickpockets
by Lee Parpart

How many obols has this ocean swallowed whole?
How many wedding rings and gold fillings have glinted
to the sea floor, to be mouthed and dropped by fish,
drawn into the yawning maws of mollusks, or fused
with mossy clumps of barnacle and rock?

I suppose we were flirting with fate when I started to push you
through surf, wheelbarrow-style, our roughhousing so wild
the gold-nugget band finally slipped your narrow finger.

From the moment it escaped to swirling sand, that ring
should have been lost – a sacrifice to any gods
in exchange for a good first year.

I don’t know what feral impulse drove me to the beach
to snatch those water-eyes off the first little face I could find –
yelling over my shoulder that I needed them and would be right back.

When I reached you again, you were staring through wavering,
fun-house water, losing hope amid flashes of abalone and sunlit stone.

With goggles on, you got down to business, floating and diving
in neat quadrants, fingering seaweeds and sands a breath at a time,
while I corralled the scene.

I fended off other swimmers.
I tried not to move.
I wondered if our marriage would be marked by loss.

Your whole body plunged, twisted, and burst up through the surface,
sand and water dribbling along your freckled forearm,
ring splitting the sun.

In our marriage, you are both finder and keeper.
I am chief instigator, creator of crises, sprinter for tools.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Stony Beach in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where we lost and found my husband’s ring in 1994.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lee Parpart has worked as a journalist and a media studies lecturer and researcher, publishing in books and journals on Canadian, U.S., and Irish cinema and television. Since returning to creative writing in 2015, she has contributed to numerous Silver Birch Press series, including “Same Name,” “Me at 17,” and “Me in a Hat.” She had a short story published in Silver Birch Press’s Nancy Drew Anthology (2016), and won an emerging writer award in Open Book: Ontario’s 2016 “What’s Your Story’” contest. She lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.