Skinny Dipping in the Ocean at Age Fifty

gloria skinny dip underwater

 By Laura Sobbott Ross


Dancing was something we hadn’t done in years,

we told one another that night, the three of us

marveling at our neon auras, fingers snapping,

cupping the cool glass walls of our cocktails, mid-spin.

Between us, eight children, seven husbands, fifteen

decades. In the air, a rhythm sparked and caught,

snippets of radiance scattered from the sphere spinning

above our heads. Didn’t we deserve this, to wring

ourselves dizzy, to whip in the raw air, to be this grateful,

this forgiven? When the bar closed, we’d drained

our candy-colored drinks, bypassed the palm trees admonishing

with wind, the porch lights of quiet pastel houses. Instead,

we took the soft track of the beach back to the rental,

until one of us suggested jumping in, and we left our clothes

in the sand, still warm with the scent of us, as we toppled in—

flapping angels into the foamy drifts, howling our pact with the dark

and panting current, craving its ferocious kiss. The last bits of us

in lace and underwire, unhooked, leafed from wet skin, then flung

across the broken sea, while our daughters waiting on the shore,

wondered at the hour and combed their siren-silky hair.


Laura Sobbott Ross has worked as a teacher and writing coach for Lake County Schools. Her poetry has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and appears in the Valparaiso Poetry Review, Blackbird, The Florida Review, Calyx, Natural Bridge, Tar River Poetry, Cold Mountain Review, and others. Her chapbook, A Tiny Hunger, was named the winner of the Seventh Annual YellowJacket Press Chapbook Contest for Florida Poets. She recently won The Ledge Poetry Contest for the delightful poem above.

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