|Jan/Feb 2008 Poetry Special Feature
that first summer without dad:
the cracked vinyl seats
seared our bare legs
on the way to swimming lessons
& church; thick air
stifled all conversation;
exhaust & humidity
sat heavy in our laps.
the crowded Chevy Nova
you borrowed from your brother
roared forward like an angry
green reptile. its AM radio
crackled on: love the lord
& beware the devil's lure;
lust not, fear not
the purifying flames of Hell.
child-philosophers: what is fire
—liquid? solid? gas? or something else
entirely? it's eternal damnation,
you said with the calm sagacity
of the righteous sycamore & the oak.
guppies advancing to minnows,
we choked on chlorine and paddled our
hearts out—while you sat on the metal
bleachers, watching the lifeguards closely,
and counting the neon exit signs. there
were band-aids and a Bible in your
pocketbook, just in case.
& underwater, in our transparent teal
cave, strings of pearly bubbles rose up from our
pale lips, begging God to bring back Our Father:
silver rosary beads of prayer,
rising full of hope & boiling the surface.