Motel Pool Outside Cheyenne

I held my new husband like a tray
on the tips of my fingers,
the sky above us a wide bowl
heavy with late summer dusk.

His long body tense,
he gripped the back of my neck,
a child’s concentration in his brow.
I rocked gently on my toes,
whispering Just relax,
craning my neck away
to show him he could let go.

That he’d never learned to swim
was just one thing that surfaced
on the honeymoon drive
from Missouri to California,
the Tom Waits cassette on repeat,
our scant belongings packed
into the trunk of someone else’s car.

What I remember is how
he kept staring up at the sky,
as I’d told him to do, paddling his hands
and feet, trying to hit a rhythm
that would keep him afloat,
and how as I backed away
I felt myself lose my footing,
nearing the deep end that seemed
to come out of nowhere.