Keep Away by Marianne Kunkel

It was a rare family vacation at the beach
and we hadn’t brought surfboards, bucket
or shovel. My kid brother, who’d vowed
to his friends he’d come home with a tan,
dropped his t-shirt in the sand. I grabbed it.
Because I could, because it’d been ages
since our parents cared to intervene, I chucked
his shirt into the ocean. It bobbed like a fish
in the foam as he hollered Hey, what the heck?
When it washed up, I raced for it. I laughed
and threw the heavy, white shirt again.
We must’ve stumbled along the shore for half an hour
lunging for the giant spitwad, me winning.
I didn’t consider that the shirt might vanish
and when it did, lost forever in far water,
I shrugged at my brother. Now he lives
in Madrid, where he’s served on a Mormon mission
for more than a year. He sometimes writes
to say prayer conquers all, or that he loves me.
I miss him in waves that obscure his face.

Image by: Arby Reed