Swimming at Crane Beach / by Lily Greenberg

On my bravest days, I wade in—
Cactus arms high, exhales stuck
like ice cubes in my throat. I know
the Atlantic has never proven warm,
but this, this, is suffering. But temporary,
I tell my shivers. Nearby, a dog the size
of my calf reluctantly flounders after
a tossed ball, propelled by magnetic
obligation, splashing and panting.

Once waist deep, I dig my fingernails
into palms, consider my fragile mortality,
look to the dog for solidarity, and dive,
shattering into kaleidoscopic chill.

I am an explosion of nerve endings,
a coating of goosebumps. I am sensation
embodied until my senses up and quit,
crying numb. But I kick and thrash until
my limbs return, lengthening. The prickles
seep back into my skin and pent-up breath
expands in my chest. I become water
pouring into itself, leaking back to source.
I never knew my fingers could be so
long, my hair could be this endless.
I am dissolved and indefinite.
But of course, the sun dips, so I slink back
up the sand, transformed, yet still heavy.