Mama says Never trust an ocean-child and I always says back I ain’t fool enough for that. ‘Cause an ocean-child creeps up on you like the tide – slowly an’ then all at once. And they don’t give nothin’ back.
I always imagined ‘em blue and grey, roarin’ and whirlin’ — all changeable so they’re different every time you turned ’round.
When I met him, though, he was green. Green like the reeds. Green like the grass in the delta a’fore the water gets salty. He didn’t sound like no waves neither, hushin’ and rollin’ all the damn time. His voice was deep an’ cool an’ alive, like wet earth.
He smelled like rain, an’ Mama never could get me outta the rain.
He kissed me an’ told me I was sunlight. No, I tasted like sunlight. Or somethin’ like that.
I didn’t think he tasted much like anything, but the way his tongue moved in my mouth an’ how his fingertips danced up my thighs made my whole body prickle. Like how I felt that time when I was little an’ I touched the electric fence as keeps the cows in around the farm down the road.
Warm. Fuzzy. Buzzing till it’s almost hurtful.
He would take me down by the delta. Always by the delta. Drag me to the ground, press hisself against myself, kiss me until he came up gasping, burning hot – the green in his eyes an’ his hair an’ his skin rich an’ bright. An’ then the rain’d come in, an’ I’d go home, tired, with mud on my shorts.
One morning, I woke up tireder than the usual. Tireder than I ought to be from just lyin’ there an’ kissin’.
And my eyes was green.
When Mama saw me, she cried and cried.
She says to herself she tried. She says to herself she taught me about the folk after all. She says to me she didn’t raise no stupid girl an’ she didn’t give two shakes what was to become of me.
I didn’t care. Didn’t feel much of anything. I wanted to go down to the delta.
I waited for him with my feet in the water an’ my hands in the mud an’ felt better. When he finally came to me, he even made the trees look grey. It was like somebody was walkin’ around shinin’ a light on him. I’d never seen him look so beautiful.
I’da bet he tasted like sunlight.
There weren’t no kissin’ this time. He touched my face, told me I’d always be his, and sank into the water. Or maybe just walked away. I dunno. I was starin’ at my muddy fingers.
I walked back home to Mama, who hugged me an’ pet my wet hair an’ cried some more. Told me she loved me even if I were just another ocean-child.
She takes me every morning to go sit in the water, an’ every evening she brings me home again. She says to me Never use up nobody, ocean-child.
And I says to her I ain’t fool enough for that.