Sister Sirens

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 a writing coach in Lake County, Florida, where she was recently named as the inaugural poet laureate. Her poetry appears in more than 100 literary journals. In addition to several Pushcart Prize nominations, she was a finalist for the Arts&Letters Poetry Award and won the Southern Humanities Review Auburn Witness Poetry Prize.  Her chapbook, A Tiny Hunger, was the winner of the Seventh Annual YellowJacket Press Chapbook Contest for Florida Poets. Her second chapbook, My Mississippi, was published by Anchor&Plume Press. Her full length book of poetry, The Graffiti of Pompeii, was published in 2018 by Adelaide Books.  She won The Ledge Poetry Contest for “Skinny Dipping in the Ocean at Age 50.”



7 replies »

  1. I’m reading your powerful and wise poem again. A friend of mine turned 50 on the 17th, and I’m meeting her for coffee today. I hope you don’t mind that I’m printing this out and bringing it to her, along with “Girls Born of Water Signs.” They both shine and spark.


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