Looking for Tommy Underwater – Zack Hutchinson

I used to breathe whole oceans,
stop when the salt scratched my lungs.
I would skip breakfast, sit seaside
while the tide’s hoax dizzied me.

I remember Tommy harboring
broken bottles under the bunk bed.
One day, in his room, he swiveled
his chair, spoke words like netting.
He caught my glance,
                                       reeled me in,
started talking fast. He rolled sentences
over me like waves. My quick breaths,
silent nods, sat in the corner, wishing
that one day they would understand him.

Mom found a twisted, wrinkled joint
half-burned in his trashcan. He smoked
under the tree house, his lighter chirping.
Lying in my bed, I heard him laughing.
But when my brother died,
                                                 things went quiet.
And after he was gone, I went to find him.
I dove through foam to reef, gulping oceans,
crustaceans, everything I needed to be
underwater. I grew only as far as I could see,

so that I never found him. Instead, I dug
my toes in, and pushed away
from the bottom, sand and shells
puffing below me, like ink, as I fled.

Z HutchinsonZack Hutchinson lives in Columbia, Missouri and is a recent graduate of Columbia College where he worked as Managing Editor of Columbia College Literary Review. Zack is a passionate student of English who enjoys writing personal essays and poetry and plans on pursuing an MFA in creative writing.