The Waterfall

by janeeatonhamilton

SourceURL:file:///Macintosh%20HD/Users/jeh/Desktop/poems/The%20Waterfall.doc

The Waterfall

 

In the month before they find your son’s body

you wake imagining his fist clutching the spent elastic

of his pyjama bottoms, the pair with sailboats riding them.

He’s swimming past your room towards milk and Cheerios,

his cowlick alive on his small head, swimming

towards cartoons and baseballs, towards his skateboard,

paddling his feet like flippers.  You’re surprised

by how light he is, how his lips shimmer like water,

how his eyes glow green as algae.  He’s

amazed you again and again by how he breathes

through water.  Every morning you almost drown,

fighting the undertow, the wild summer runoff,

coughing into air exhausted, but your son is happy.

He’s learning the language of gills and fins.

Of minnows and fry.  That’s what he says

when you try to pull him to safety; he says

he’s riding the waterfall down its awful lengths

to the log jam at the bottom pool like a stuntman.

He’s cool to the touch; his beauty has you by the throat.

He’s translucent, you can see his heart under

his young boy’s ribs, beating and beating

as it once beat under the stretched skin of your belly,

blue as airlessness, primed for the vertical dive.

-Jane Eaton Hamilton