If you were thrown, or jumped, into deep water and did not drown, you were swimming.
You couldn’t swim, but you didn’t drown either. What was that called? Yes, “swimming.”
Your father didn’t know what to say. Only, “I had to learn to swim.” Said he was young
enough to work from sunup to sundown, all he had to do was see how his brothers did it,
but when they threw him in the gravel pit filled with years of rainwater and runoff, he couldn’t touch bottom so he floated on his back to keep from going under. When you swim, his son, you do the same. You learn to dive so deep you touch bottom because you’re his son. Heir to his life as he always lived, sunup to sundown but sleeping now in his big chair.
That was too far away when you swam naked in the river, or was that what you dreamed last night? Memory stays. She took her clothes off and you followed her brown skin into the water, and after a little while you followed her out and you lay with her on the blanket she had spread to keep your bodies out of the dirt, even though the blanket was soon wet and each of you, locked with your legs between hers embracing your waist, you rolled off without thinking, she followed, you didn’t care what you thought. Caring was for later . . .
(24 May 2013)
copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander