Seven Billion Ankles

Alex Haber

We were standing with our feet in the water, our shirts melting onto our backs. That day on the beach our limbs became tongues, glistened with the stench of protective summer goop. Your bra, milky and padded, was sweating through the cotton.

Everywhere hummed the heat of overpopulation. Children moving sand, packing it with the red butts of shovels. Teenagers throwing Frisbees, making heroic lunges, splashing near-naked friends. Stomachs spilled over and chests fought for freedom. Every skin restless, eager to escape.

That day on the beach the water kissed our ankles, urged us to take a swim. Our hands, limp at our sides, our toes sloshing in our shoes, we watched them drink the sun, ignored the sky clawing at our white parts. Out there the fish flung their tails, slapped at the bareness of intruders.

Which way to the beach? they asked us. We lost ourselves in the itchy tall grass. The pale hidden parts of nature. That way, answered the dull lips of your thumb, anxious to be away.

We spread out on the shaded bench, let the insects explore us. In the distance: the bloating of everything. We fell asleep drooling, our clothes falling off of our skin.