foam and waves


boy and girl career towards each other as if
they’re about to dance but boy’s foam ring
is a bumper boat bouncing off waves
walls legs casting girl to the sea floor

the boy’s mother, round bellied
yells from the shore out get out
but boy’s boat is steaming
foam and waves turning
tacking ploughing

out his mother calls, tears sharpening
each vowel into points and boy jumps ship
rolls to his thin back in the wake he has made
smiles at the corrugated roof lets water
fill his ears warm salt on his tongue

he kicks his legs into it all once twice again laughing
splashing chlorine in the girl’s eyes and she’s clutching
her ring screaming the lifeguard blowing a whistle
it slicing through the swell and into his eardrums

he falls to his knees starts scooping
pool water into his mouth with his hand
out drips down his mother’s cheek he laps
like a thirsty dog gulping down the chlorine
the cut of the whistle his round bellied mother
the ball of a sister inside


Rebecca Ball is a high school teacher based near Ōtautahi, New Zealand. She has had poems published in Landfall, London GripEnglish in Aotearoa and Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2021, as well as a narrative study guide, BA: An Insider’s Guide, with Auckland University Press.