"Valentine's Day on Coney Island" by Lizzie Frank
Summer mornings sweating in my sheets
Until my water-born baby jumps on the bed
Let’s go! To Coney Island!
On that train ride that curls through Brooklyn
Stopping once a minute
You babble in your bathing suit
Coney Island! I grew up there
Speaking Russian on the streets, Hebrew in the home
I went to Coney Island
Water-born, like you
With a little-girl giggle and a chubby belly
Wearing my t-shirt into the water
In younger summers, all the love I had couldn’t fit in my skin
Couldn’t fit in the ocean, all my friends
On the beach when I dived under a wave curled in a half-heart
I don’t watch for hearts in the clouds anymore, but with you
Every day is Valentine’s Day
You scribble cards I will never send
Meant for relatives that have excommunicated
Me, for bringing you up in a damaged environment
You, for being brought up damaged
To Coney Island we go! I cannot
Swim with you in the water. I stay on the beach
You splash in the shallow crash
Zone, dig up sand to
Rub in your hair
While I sweat in a hoodie
I can resume wearing binders, according to my GP
But post-pregnancy nipples are sensitive
Probably always will be
The summer of love!
You call me the name you have the most heart for
Momma! Daddy! Come swim!
All the love I had before
Didn’t vanish from me
It is yours now
All the love
Is for you
Holding up a shell
You’re in too deep
Baby, too far!
Come get me!
I walk to the border
Of wet sand
A wave inches toward shore
Bra or binder
All I have is this love
That used to emit from all parts of me
Now, a spotlight
I slip out of my sandals
Drop my hoodie on top
Into the ocean
You have your first swim
Paddling toward your momma-daddy
My water-born baby doesn't need my help. All you needed was me.
Lizzie Frank is a writer originally from upstate New York who now lives in Brooklyn and is writing this bio from Poland. He enjoys hiking, swimming, and being with his best friend. Find more of Lizzie’s work in Bear Creek Gazette and Stone of Madness Press.