Image by Fernanda Amis

Poetry Dinner with Jack

Megan Fernandes


A couple goes scuba diving and by accident,
gets left behind in the water. The boat roars off.
And there they float, in full gear and disbelief,
tanks low on air, stranded in a seamless blue,
deciding if they can survive until the next day, which,
of course, they cannot, because the average person
can only tread four hours without a life jacket.
The couple bickers: Why did we go on this vacation?
Why did you choose this company? Why did I choose you?
And even when it’s too late, with fatigue building
in their arms and waves buoying their bodies
like a whipped dessert, each makes their case of a soulmate
gone wrong. Because a real love story would never end like this.
Eventually, the couple must choose their deaths.
One removes their suit and slips into hypothermic sleep,
and the other cuts and spills blood to entice a shark.
Both choices tell us something about our protagonists,
who are maybe not even our protagonists since
they are so bitter one cannot fully root for them.
See, the logic of a couple is like a Beckett play.
Facing the end, you don’t want someone with you
for comfort. You want someone with you to blame.
Jesus, I reply, and cut my steak like a heart.

Megan Fernandes has been published in The New Yorker, the New England Review, Ploughshares, and The Nation, among others. Her third book of poetry, I Do Everything I’m Told, is forthcoming with Tin House in June 2023. She lives in New York.