swimming lessons

I remember father's heavy arms
rowing toward the lake's
wet center. The water gray,angry,
like, too often, father's face. But
the sun, ignorant of the rumored
rain, was shining dreams.That day
his face was clear, cloudless;
he'd purchased smiles, and
carried them to the boat in six-packs.
Still, even at six,I knew something
of the suddenness of storms. Sleepy,
bored with unhungry fish,
my father found a new oar
at the bottom of his bottle.
A six year old, surely, must learn
to swim. The sky, and his heart,
grew dark. I can't say that when his arms
circled me I thought it was love,
nor say, he did anything
his father had not done to him some
clouded day years before. But,
in this fermented legacy,
fear was born, as the lake swallowed me
like nightmares do, and covered
me, with slick horror, in wet screams.
(My ears were thunder...my lungs broke
for the sky like sharp lightening..my body
fell helplessly...
to the moist gravity of pain.)

And the rain, as always, fell too.

So for years I kept my feet far from
any shore. Afraid if I walked
too close the water's wet lips
would devour me again. Until you,
with one hand
at the small of my back,
and a smile brighter than
the most innocent star,
taught me, wet and warm, to float;
that storms are not forever....

And that the rain, as always, will end.


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