when wading knee-deep in the ocean

A wave breaks.

An object peeks through the crest.

From a distance it looks


like a log hovering in the murk

of greens & earthiness.

When I was a child


I thought I saw a human

head in one wave

the kelp-y bits the hair


floating at the surface

like this swimmer needed rescue

– but we were too late.


We were in the shallows

& they were far away

& I crouched there


as the tide sucked me toward them.

The slap of sand & the shells & salt

burned like there were jellyfish


tentacles that latched on

to me & drained the lifeblood

out of me


led me to float

surrendering that grip

on life


on the back & forth

the basic ebbs of nature.

The world can’t hold


onto this cycling.

We’re that unknown object

in the distance.

Kevin A. Risner is writing instructor and ESL Coordinator at the Cleveland Institute of Art. His work can be found in Rise Up Review, Rising Phoenix Review, Noble / Gas Qtrly, The Wire's Dream, Ghost City Review, and others. He has two short poetry collections published: My Ear is a Sieve (Bottlecap Press, 2017) and Lucid (The Poetry Annals, 2018).