I blame every Santa Cruz summer
for every ounce of invincibility I’ve felt,
if you can come out of the thaw still deer spry,
if you can swallow the sun like those born here,
you can do anything underwater
& how many times should I have died
but at 16 I didn’t believe in death & so it never came,
how many scientists wish they could bottle up teen girl faith
& feed it to believers
& us, the greatest believers of all
not in ourselves,
but in ourselves all the same
the lifeguards, the surf rock, the unrolled windows & how
we knew it all would save us & it did sunset
by sunset tan line, by new pink skin peeled off like a contest
every summer in Santa Cruz presents its own rose tinted glasses,
& as much as you love the word drowning
you forget where it came from
& where you come from & of course
it has always been this place
this burnt beach
this grain of glassy sand
this heat transfer
of course you begin and end here
what other existence is there
swallowed whole by the sounds
of young girls discovering their own
kind of immortality

Chestina Craig lives in California with her cat. Her work has been published by Crab Fat Magazine, Sea Foam Mag, Button Poetry and others. She has presented her work at The Presidents Commission on The Status of Women, The Young Women’s Empowerment Conference, & more. She has a bachelor’s degree in marine biology and sometimes pets sharks or hangs out with octopi. She hopes that one day she will only be required to wear flowy clothing, study the ocean, and get paid to have too many feelings. Her chapbook “body of water” came out October 2017 with Sadie Girl Press.