By Sharon Coleman

Before radiation conjoined continents. In those windy days by the Pacific, when we went to empty our hands of grades, bills, unpaid work. We stood separate. Cold, a cherished forgetting. Something immense. Something distant. We held our smallness in check. We held hands, maybe. Maybe not. I walked in circles around beaches and hills. Thought of a last name of my migrant ancestors I might take if we marry. You stood with the vision of waves.

When contaminated clouds circled our planet, my nephew touched a rain puddle for the first time. He looked into it: his face? You stood. I walked in circles. Rain came down. Milk was measured. Scientists bartered plausible pathologies for wave-swept birds. I told my nephew’s parents to take him in. They laughed as he splashed his watery likeness.

We held hands, maybe, and walked inside.

At night it was almost Eden. Nothing more to desire, not even knowledge because that we almost had. We became both continent and sea. Now a motorcycle from Japan washes up on shore. I close my eyes, and a seal with the last name of my ancestors swims by. Radiation burns across its body. I didn’t take that name. I didn’t take yours. In this bed though, we don’t practice being together because we are.

Sharon Coleman’s a fifth-generation Northern Californian with a penchant for languages and their entangled word roots. She writes for Poetry Flash, co-curates the reading series Lyrics & Dirges and co-directs the Berkeley Poetry Festival. She the author of a chapbook of poetry, Half Circle, and a book of microfiction, Paris Blinks (Paper Press, 2016).