Eight-six degrees, high tide.
We were arguing about suicide.
Me, safe from the sun under the umbrella;
you, propped on your elbows in the sand,
your arms, recently iron-pumped, bronzing smoothly,
your short gold curls and strong nose almost
Roman coinworthy as you scanned
the water with restless air and announced
you'd kill yourself, you really would,
if you weren't a coward.
While I maintained the wish to die
itself was cowardly.
And I didn't believe you:
you didn't really want to die.
What about speed and wind--
your long bike rides, tracing the harbor
on unknown roads? What about your pencil
setting a line on a clean sheet of drafting
paper? Women with small breasts
and certain customs you were said
to love in bed? At the very least,
the kind of happiness that's purely physical.
The person who wants to die,
you snapped, doesn't care about
any of that. He'd give it all up
for a moment's peace. Peace from
striving, from endless dissatisfaction
with a self that's less than idea.
I'd do it, you insisted, if I weren't
shit-scared of pain.
If it's pain you don't like
you'd take pills, I said.
But I hadn't won, and added lamely;
Aren't you curious how your life
is going to Turn Out? That's not
a question of being brave--
just mildly vain, which you are,
or so you claim.
You didn't answer for a while,
and half-enraged (or was it half in love)
I watched your critic's eye alight
on a black haired figure clad in white
bikini as she ran lightly down
the hard-packed sand and dove
into a creamy wave.
A Working Girl Can't Win