Percentage of Humans in The Water
You used to be able to follow the birds in the sky, to take your finger, make a line between the clouds and each feather. Letting blue turn to purple, hollow, ending in an aching hand, a taut wire below.
Their wings always forced me to turn away. Now, when I think I hear a seagull cry, I close my eyes, try to listen to the waves. After the flood; that’s all I can see. I want to tell them the rains stopped. Want to tell them that Nova Scotia survived, that the beaches returned somewhere else.
Fatuous posturing, laughing in lapping brine. It’s the swaying boat beneath me, still holding me like a child.
Who would listen to the words of a fisherman? We don’t exist anymore—I don’t exist anymore.
So I wait for him. Out here, expelled from space and time.
--Ezekiel, why’re you going out there?
The smell of brewed coffee, I’ve fallen from a dream, my body in bed. A click, I remember there is only land here. Maria stares at me. I look out the window, to the bay. Waves, a metronome hiding between my sheets. My sister sighs as I bite into my toast.
--I’m a fisherman.
She pulls away. The question lingers, space unfilled, but I’m tired. I’m not here. I’m out there, on the water.
I can’t leave.
I think of telling her to take Brian, head inland. See what’s left of Montreal or Toronto. Leave Canada, go South. To Mexico, to mom, to dad, to the desert.
I say nothing. I’m alone in the room. I’m upstairs. I’m sleeping.
Could fight. Get up, feel the chair fall behind me. Look into her eyes, tell her I’m doing just as much as her.
I want to point to the ocean. See how little it has changed? It’s the sound of it touching land. I was four when I first heard it. No, I was in my mother’s belly. She was the ocean, she was Mexico, she was New Waterford.
No one’s there.
That’s how little I’ve changed.
I nod my head, Sandalphon’s fingers running through my hair. The sun has risen. No waves, no lobsters, just lines, my head over the edge of the boat.
--Ze, there’s nothing down there.
His copper-tone hair different from my black. Skin brown, lighter, deeper, just a reflection of my own flesh. He is me.
It rises, splashes back to the water. He’s not in the boat yet. Fingers wet, eyes dissecting the horizon. It’s been a year now. Of meeting, of talking, of forgetting to pick up milk on the way back.
--Come in the water.
--Come in the boat.
He laughs at me. His tail breaks water, red from a dream, a red snapper Mermaid, he told me. He is before the flood, I am after. I poke his forehead. My finger touches smoothness. It’s water, a god and I’ve been chosen somehow.
I remember collecting shells and rocks, shards of glass sprouting from the sand. In my palm, I imagined a world where the rain stopped and dad sent out one last message.
I turn around, face him. A film between his fingers. Amber eyes, something I picked up on the beach. He said I was Hume. I’m Ezekiel, I said back.
--I missed you.
The timbre of his voice, an accent from a country never made.
--I missed you, too, Dalfy.
Sandalphon pulls back from the boat, swaying again. I grip the side tighter, think to scream.
Hand underwater, pulls it up, and there’s an orb made of ocean. Magic. He laughed when I said that. I simply look ahead now.
A burst, orb becomes mist and he’s on me, we’re kissing—I’m kissing a man from the ocean.
He lives in the sea. He’s a prince. Or a noble. A mermaid, something else in his language. But his language is my language. I hear the words and I feel us kissing. My hand on his head, a mint taste. Nipping; ready—what is sex between us?
I pray he pulls me over every time. I think the ocean would understand. Nereus-Pesce, he told me. I live on Gnome’s hand. I told him of Nova Scotia. I told him we could fly. Before. That we went up there. After I said that, he looked up at the moon and cried.
He’s hurting, too.
I grab him, tipping towards the boat. He lifts up, we’re laughing and kissing and I can see my sister in the darkness of the room—it’s a strong coffee smell.
Coming out here, to the sea, to Sandalphon, I wonder when I will melt into the water. Torrents from the sky, coming and coming and coming. Me at a window, hearing the pitter patter of rain. Looking out, counting each star, a boat, a family, looking for dad. Flashes of light, Morse Code and even through the rain, I believed I would see it.
--Gonna kill me.
I laugh. He’s on the boat. I’m on the boat. My fingers graze where his scales meet skin. A patina of oil but it’s water, solid form. An earthen body, he told me he has legs, too. I’ve never seen them. His tail curves on the wood and he looks at me as I sit up. He is beautiful, sturdier than the men of land. His hand’s on my flannel and I wonder if he wants me naked again.
--How’s the ocean?
He says. I listen for laughter. He runs his fingers through his hair, pulling at the water, gathering it in shapes above him.
--Father is seeking an engagement.
--To be a grandfather.
It’s us. His hand over my hand. We’re sitting side by side, our backs to the edge of the boat. Fishing lines all around me knowing when I pull them, there’ll be empty cages.
--It doesn’t matter.
He looks at me. I see the lobsters. Dark shapes crisscross the land, roads of rock beneath the water, somber as I place rubber bands on their hands.
--Be my husband.
Sandalphon lays his head on my shoulder. I hear a beating, whirlpools of yesteryear. Maria skipping stones, turned into bioluminescent fish. Migrations in the sky, wondering if Sandalphon followed them with his finger, too.
--I want you.
--I don’t care if you’re Hume.
--Your father, he—
--Father means nothing.
--I can’t even give you a kid.
--Yes you can.
--You’re a Hume, I know. I’m a Mermaid. I’m not you. Your people got stuck somewhere. My people changed. I can bear something of yours. It’s all I’ve wanted.
--What will it be?
He smiles and I blush.
--Maybe Hume, maybe Mermaid, maybe even Chimaera.
Union of body, animals unchosen. I want to see the world Sandalphon sees, to see us both become of water. I think of Maria, the way our hands interlocked when we heard the news. Her crying, sobbing against my shirt. The wetness from Sandalphon’s hair, all the way to the kitchen floor where I’d wait for dad.
--Could I be someone like you?
There’s something in my eyes. The boat continues to sway. I could plunge, let the current take me. Want to forget that the ocean came from above. Want to forget I have no tail. To hear a seagull cry. For Sebastian and John, hear their voices fighting against the wind. For the fish to plunge into our nets and for the lobsters to greet us in red. For Maria to smile, her hand on her stomach, and her husband, holding us there. For mom, for dad.
The sky is clear but the rain continues.
--Are you scared, Ze?
I shake my head, turn around, find my lips to his. I lie in the watery shapes.
--Do you think the Deluge will come back?
My lips hover above his neck, hands on my back, my flannel wet, muscles tense.
--Yes, I think it will.
Sandalphon whispers. I smile against his skin. Pulling, breaking apart, I take my flannel off, the shirt underneath, bare chested, hair swirling, his fingers tracing ravines.
I have fallen in love.
That’s it, isn’t it? How I felt catching my first fish. Becoming a man, looking at the columns of water, seeing images of masculine shapes. Inside my skin, Morse code, those lights I could never clearly see.
Take me to the ocean.
--Will you marry me?
I ask. A droplet from above. A mist that lingers. The radio said clear skies. I look up. Wings.
I’ve never known anything but the quiet of Nova Scotia. Never heard the bustling cities, the noise-polluted skies, never heard the sound of feet on Mexican soil, smelled the rains coming from barren deserts. I never thought to ask them any real questions before they left. I didn’t question myself, the ocean, the boat, the lines with lobsters at the end.
My hand tightens around his. I feel a hum from his body to mine. Drizzling, water dented in progress. No umbrella, rain on my bare chest; boreal fingers graze my sun-starved body.
--Would you like me to stop the rain?
I shake my head. Getting up, boots off, socks gone, pants, underwear, I am naked. Hard, wondering, inclined to believe that there was never any water on this planet.
The sea swirls around us in tubular form, gravity defied. Sandalphon grabs my arm, pulls me down so I am cradling him. My penis settles at his scales. Legs cold and the rain continues. I hear it, the seagull. I want to close my eyes, yell for it to come back.
--You’re beautiful, Ezekiel.
The Deluge came and came and came until it didn’t anymore. Somehow, that wasn’t change enough.
I whisper, to him, to them. I’m inside him. We kiss so I remember the man below me. His body, the smell of saltwater. His muscular chest, a reflection of me from a dream. Of me tapping on the window, looking, just one light. My mother in the kitchen, faucet on and off. Thinking I was the rain; thinking dad’s body must have floated for days.
I come, grunting, minutes and hours of pleasure, in Sandalphon, forming inside him, with nothing from the ocean. Because I am the ocean.
A cry, two cries. Sandalphon’s hands on my hair, us locked together, pulsing, my cum in another world, my body from the Humes that I don’t even understand.
I look at him. A kiss to my cheek.
He says. I nod my head, close my eyes, head to his shoulder.
Above, two seagulls circling, a ceremonial time machine.