Excerpt from Half-Boy – 1932
Manatees taught me how to swim. Everyone should have such good teachers. Our bodies aren’t dissimilar—round, thick, born with no legs the same as me. Every year they, even the babies, swim from the ocean and up the rivers, one hundred and sixty two miles of rivers according to my study of Father’s World Atlas. The manatees use their paddled tails, but my arms reach longer and flex more. It seemed reasonable that I, even with my body, should learn to, at the very least, float in an eddy.
The manatees don’t come here in the summer. Right now they’re in the Atlantic Ocean eating kelp and scaring fishermen as they snort to the surface, fishermen who will report that they saw a mermaid. But still, I lie on my back in the water, drop deep into the river, and pretend that I’m resting beside them. White sand puffs into the current wherever I touch the bottom. The eel grass slides into my hair, wraps under my arms, and tickles along my back and into the folds of my body. The trees that hang over the river glaze above me. If I would ever let my breath go, I could stay here forever. But I don’t. I never do. The reasons not to change, but today’s reason is that I want a drink. My lungs ache in a final way. I race to the surface and gasp for air.
Sandra Gail Lambert writes memoir and fiction. Her writing has been published in New Letters, Brevity,The Weekly Rumpus, Water~Stone Review, the North American Review, Arts & Letters, Hippocampus, the Alaska Quarterly Review, and a variety of anthologies. Her work has received nominations for a Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net. Excerpts from her novel,The River’s Memory (Twisted Road/2014), have won prizes from Big Fiction Magazine and the Saints and Sinners Short Fiction Contest. Sandra lives with her partner in Gainesville, Florida—a home base for trips to her beloved rivers and marshes.
Sarah Einstein is the author of Mot: A Memoir (University of Georgia Press 2015), Remnants of Passion (Shebooks 2014). Her essays and short stories have appeared in The Sun, Ninth Letter, PANK and other journals. Her work has been awarded a Pushcart Prize, a Best of the Net, and the AWP Prize in Creative Nonfiction. She is also the prose editor for Stirring: A Literary Collective and the special projects editor for Brevity Magazine. She is a professor of creative writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.