I

My daughter is stretched out on white sand, feeding the ocean.
She says she is taming the sea — its wild­ness nibbles
at her fin­gers. We have seen no dol­phins today,
nor any stin­grays nor whales nor any­thing bigger
than spiky brown coral that has washed up on the shore.

The wind seems end­less; she asks me, one day:
What happened to summer? And I don’t say:
We killed it. I don’t say: I think this might be it,
I think this might be how it is now,
Keening winds howling down, furies whip­ping
Across night­mares. I don’t say: I am being flayed
Slowly by the sands and the dust and the moulds
Car­ried by these winds, flayed from the inside out.

For days after­wards, becoming weeks, I am clogged
to the gullet. I wonder if she will ever remember a day
Where the sun was gentle and the world was still,
or whether I will tell her about it when she’s older,
as we hunker down trying to escape the jagged wind
or sweat parched in the brown heat and
she will scoff at me, fairytales from another world.
It seems we live only in extremes now: firestorms,
Tor­nadoes, cyc­lones, heat­wave, drought, flood…

After barely an hour on the beach, her skin is red and angry
with sun­burned bit­ter­ness. I wonder what I’ve done,
bringing a child into this world of calamity and des­per­a­tion.

II

Every day is another exer­cise in lying con­vin­cingly:
that I am okay, that we are okay, that she will be okay.

My sweet child wants to open our home to a new sister,
a refugee from Syria, and I explain that we might need
to be gentle with such a child, unsure what she’s seen.
I do not explain that I cannot watch one more video
of bleeding chil­dren, of dying chil­dren, of men
crying over still bodies (I thought starving ones in
Africa were bad in the 80s; but charity porn, like
all other porn, needs to up the intensity for impact
in the face of apathy.)

My sweet child doesn’t know yet that con­cen­tra­tion camps
exist and people — inno­cent people — in her own country
are woken in the night and wrenched away into gulags.

My sweet child is shocked to dis­cover that most if not all of
her favourite animals are endangered and she lit­er­ally
makes lem­onade and raises $77.35 for the World Wild­life Fund
so that they will save the animals. I don’t tell her
that we are headed for the sixth great extinc­tion.

I don’t tell my sweet child that she might need to know
how to per­form an abor­tion safely because it might be illegal.
I don’t tell my sweet child that I’m scared she
might need to use her golden hair and her azure
eyes to lie about her Jewish her­itage and smuggle
her mother to safety.

I let her believe that she can tame the sea.