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