Poetry

At Newport Beach

Sarina Romero

Abjection, I say, when Martha asked how
I felt, earlier that day, watching my father rub
his palm back and forth against his girlfriend’s
open thigh. She wore a tiny neon bikini.
The waves crashed. I bought donuts and coffee.
I watched her wrap her taut, eighteen-year-old
legs around my dad’s waist. I readjusted myself
on my towel. I glanced at my own body,
embarrassed my bikini was as small as hers.
I ordered beer at dinner just to remind everyone
I legally could. Just to place age square
in the middle of the table between the appetizers
and my sweating bottle. There was a musician
I once knew who spent months recording notes
made by objects stored in a museum’s archives.
He said, every object sings. He said,
if I built a room it might give me an A-flat
and the harmonic series that goes with it,
he said, every empty space sings.
All weekend I listened to hundreds of objects.
All weekend with the two of them I spoke nothing
sentences to pass the time. In the mornings
I walked my dog to the pier. I placed my ear
to the empty Tecates, the can of black beans,
the path along the sand, I put my ear to the sand.
I needed something to measure. I needed
that beach, but alone, stripped of meaning.
For the first time in a long time I wanted to be touched
by no one. I could barely stand the tug
of the current. I swam only in the bay. I watched
the girl all weekend. I watched how they touched.
I was needing something. I needed
the water quiet enough to hear it cave
around my body when I plunged
underneath. Its noise stripped me of myself,
and I remember this as my favorite part of the trip—
to hear even the color of the algae at the water’s
pale surface, clinging wherever I swam,
even as I pushed it away.

Sarina Romero is a poet from Oakland, California. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from NYU and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Originally published:
June 28, 2021

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