Elemental

by janeeatonhamilton

Take a flashlight down to the lake and shiver on the edge of the dock, naked in the chill, trying to convince yourself that you love night swimming. Remember a foggy night at Blackburn Lake with the car headlights almost illuminating the dock, and Sarah, maybe 10 years old, running down it with her towel clutched like a cape, jumping out into the white wild and disappearing. Miss her, and regret life’s changes. Remember the dog and his yellow canter, his bellyflop.  Look up at the concave sky, the masses of stars. Shape the dive in your muscles. Do it. That moment where you can’t take it back. Slice the water. Come up happy. Everything you once believed is still true: The water is as tepid as bathwater, and you still love it all, the ink spreading out around it, the power in your arms as you do the breast stroke, nitro on-board, the way you can effortlessly float, the skinny way that your mind, for a minute, rests in its carapace. There are bats squeaking, winging out above the black, swooping and skimming, maybe catching dragonflies or just mosquitoes. As you swim out, things invert. Now the stars are diamond chips around your shoulders, your hips, your toes.