Autumn Sky Poetry . . . Number 15 . . .

We Leave the Beaches for the Tourists

     poem and art by Ira Sukrungruang

Except when the water receded and what lay there
were gape-mouthed fishes, flopping and gasping
on land that had not seen unfiltered sun

for millennia. We watched, at first,
seaweed, like the long, luscious hair of a mermaid
tangling their feet, and coral like polished

bone. We rushed out toward
the extended shore with wicker baskets to catch
the squiggling fishes, writhing in the heat.

And we were like them, those tourists, for a moment,
amazed at the world and oblivious to the hungry strays
dashing far from the beach, surrendering

the food offering of the sea. We were oblivious
to many things, the elephants that ignored
their handlers, as they made toward the highest

part of the island, the coming wave
that would take us all, sweeping us into the gullet
of the planet and into our next lives.

We remain behind, but hide in shadows.
Only the white faces haunt you, tourist-ghosts
lingering on the beach in bikinis and swim trunks

and sunglasses, wandering back and forth, confused
about the direction of the wind, their unheard voices,
the water that can never carry them home.

Ira Sukrungruang’s poetry has appeared in North American Review, Witness, The Sun, and numerous other literary journals. He co-edited two literary anthologies about the fat experience: What Are You Looking At? The First Fat Fiction Anthology and Scoot Over, Skinny: The Fat Nonfiction Anthology. His memoir Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy is forthcoming from University of Missouri Press. He is the creative nonfiction editor of Sweet: A Literary Confection and teaches creative writing at University of South Florida. He lives in Florida with his wife Katherine Riegel and their three puppies. To check out more of his work, please visit his website at:

© 2009 Ira Sukrungruang