All the mothers are walking towards the sea.

They aren’t going to be mermaids, or angels, or anything like that, and they aren’t going to be motionless for too long, or food for worms — although, I guess, some of them will be mermaids

for a little while.

All the mothers are walking towards the sea. My mother, first.

The sea raises its old white head, and makes shapes — strikes poses, not even from memory, for it is beyond | memory, and before

memory, too.

The mothers are walking towards the sea, the ones who died in their cars, the ones who burned, and their mothers walk in front of them, their children straggle behind.

The fathers can’t make sense of it, so instead | they do what they always do, and watch, impotently, as the sea | dumps its tons of white carnations | onto the beach, they have things they must achieve | before they die in cars, die from inhaling | smoke: they have money to make, and money to squander, they quickly | grow tired of watching the waves | foam into the sand, and their children are calling.

All the mothers are headstrong, they insist | on walking towards the sea, your mother, first.

Their beds were green, eyes | peeped out from between the leaves. They loved the evenings in the city | in summer just after rain | the lights were tender then, the future stretched wide, like a plain, and their bodies | came upon them over and over again | like king tides.

They go in lines, towards the shore, it’s not a matter of will, not a matter of thought or of design, not a matter of fate, and the fathers | can’t make sense of it, they start running away, although I guess | with their children calling, why would they linger?

The sea raises its young white head, just for the mothers.

Along the coast road, as night falls, the traffic builds, the vehicles put on their lights, it will take a while | to get to the city. Put on some music. Sleep in the back.

What’s the worst that can happen?

Let me tell you: it’s already happened.

All the mothers are walking towards the sea. Their young children | struggle to catch up.

My children, first.

••


from the series hypergrammar (open-ended, 2012–present)