It is a late June lesson. The sky threatens.
And so do five-year-olds. Sobs, cries, all-out wails.
Fear as palpable as the muggy, noon-day heat. The
instructor, like a merciless Natzi, calls you to the deep.
Chin down! Arms out front! Like Superman! Don’t fight it!
You edge forward, shivering, shoulders as hunched as grackles’
wings. You can do this! The water is strong and will hold you up.
Glue-footed you are. Tentative. Panic painting your tiny frame.
Jump! Now! Right now! I said now! You fill your lungs and lunge,
breaking the water, stroking toward her as if every drag might be
your last. Breathe! Pull! Kick! Breathe! She offers her hand and
then shoves you toward the shallow where you emerge for her
high-fives and atta boys. See, you have swum the pool’s length.
Lips quivering and eyes tear-filled, you inch out of the water,
cutting a glance at your mother. All you see is her pride.
What you don’t detect are muffled whimpers escaping her
very core. A heart flutter-kicking. How well she understands water
to be strong, dear son, so strong, in fact, it can bear you up. But
she knows it to grow dark and billowing and treacherous and wild.
She prays for lifelines, our precious one. She pleads for buoys.
Jo Taylor is a retired, 35-year English teacher from Georgia. Her favorite genre to teach high school students was poetry, and today she dedicates more time to writing it, her major themes focused on family, place, and faith. She says she feels compelled to write, to give testimony to the past and to her heritage. She has been published in The Ekphrastic Review, in Silver Birch Press and in Heart of Flesh Literary Journal.
The Ekphrastic Review
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