“Age of Soak” by Damian Caudill


Sprinkle salt water on fresh towels for Kevin Meeks
who doesn’t know the first thing about riptides. He needs the blessing now more than ever.
Rub sunscreen in small circles on every other
swimmer’s back while they rock quietly on shore, waiting
for the thump-thump of rescue copters overhead.
Let their buoyancy swell by half
as Hyacinth gurgles and spits amongst the foam;
none shall test tides without a buddy, none
shall attempt butterfly so soon after meals.

What a shock when the final flare is fumbled,
the protégé struggling as older brother waves from shore,
not knowing the half of it.

Let our saint of lung and stroke poll the muses upon
their white-washed thrones. These girls
who wear the red outfit like second skin,
their shrill black whistles wailing across the water.
To touch these lips is to knock up against death.
Kevin, did you ever think it would happen like this?
The exchange of air, too weak to even bite her lip,
like you swore you would.
Divinity is the taste of what rises back,
brine and grit. When they pump your stomach Kevin,
will they find pearls? Will someone whisper miracle,
if just this once, the sea gives back its prize?

The second in Damian Caudill‘s series of poems focused on the lesser-known patron saints, “Age of Soak” is dedicated to Saint Hyacinth. The native of Poland is the patronage saint to those in danger (or in fear) of drowning. Read “Age of Chatter,” an ode to Saint Apollonia (the patron saint of dentistry), here

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