I don’t know what bright looks like
but the Sirens sound bright.
I imagine bright as the crest of a wave.
Cold hands holding you hostage in jarring water,
with enough elegance for you to stand another round.
biting a crisp Macintosh,
the sand that gets gritted into my ears.
But I’ve never seen bright,
so I’m comfortable staying in my dark.
The first time I hear them I’m nine.
It is April.
The air heavy with the scent of musk
like the blanket from Grandma’s has been lain across my town.
I rub my fingers together in remembrance of its scratchy woolen fabric
when I trip over the playground ball.
Its grips scrape up into my Achilles heel,
alternating horizontal and vertical plastic lines leaving a perfect imprint on my skin
and a menace of a scrape on my knee.
Grandma sends me out the back door to play in the water
because sea salt heals,
but it burns too.
Their voices lead me down the path,
lapping up against my shins with the slow rolling tide,
skin warm under the summer sun.
They sing of the seven wonders of the world,
a clean sheet palace with a whipped cream dome.
I step closer.
A crumbling city of bricks atop a mountain gracing the heavens.
Its like I can see every detail,
down to the cracks in the paint.
Even a structure of swiss cheese,
its holes home to millenia old battles.
I’m up to my neck,
and I almost don’t notice the prickles in my legs as they begin to go numb.
I’m not aloud near the water without my mother after that.
The second time I hear them they trickle down main street.
Their voices swirling with the summer breeze,
I put down the clay pot.
“Lemonade,” they coo,
“from the little girl down the street,
sour with a hint of sweet.
The flower is August,
warm and heavy,
your mother’s best hat
for Racing Day at the track;
It is laughter.”
I get the flower,
and then I get more,
telling mother we need to plant them everywhere.
I don’t want different smells and textures abundant in our beds this year,
I want this one.
So we plant them,
water them like they’re going extinct;
I can see them.
The third time I hear them
they call me from my bed.
They sing about the clear night sky:
a 1980s popcorn ceiling,
your grandmother's wedding ring,
your favorite pillow.
I follow them from my house.
“The sand is crushed graham crackers
and we are the melted chocolate.
The water is a strawberry scented bubble bath--
Breathe it in.”
So I do.