Tuesday, April 16, 2013

even the most placid edges of my father taught me that water is for diving

if i had a prayer
and i knew god could hear me, 
i'd ask never to be taken far from the sea. 

i learned young to swim;
gripping the neck of my father
as he dove again and again
along the smooth bottom 
of our south florida swimming pool; 
his stretched arms and legs
forcing the water backward, 
and both mine and his body forward 
like underwater human row boats;

coming up for air just in time 
for the exhale from my lungs 
through my upward pointing mouth 
to break the surface of the water
like the spout of a fin whale;

(i swear i still prefer to let held breathe 
burst open inside of me 
before unlocking my fingers from perceived toughness). 

even the most placid edges of my father taught me that water is for diving, 
lengths are for swimming, 
there and back and back again,
and little boys, for tossing as high and as far as splashably possible; 
that skin dries,
that the cliffs are never as high as they seem looking downward,
prior to jumping, 
that the river is always deep enough where trust has gone before,
that oxygen tastes better and better the longer we've been under,
and the cold and the fear are always forgotten when you're back home telling the story. 

the sea shows me her shores 
and i show her my shoes; 
we are kindred souls.  

april afternoon sings all the right songs,
and the mediterranean is just too beautiful to let her dance alone.