At Lincoln Park Pool

de­spite the heat
ad­vi­sory, I brought my
son to swim. ninety-four de­grees
on July 4th and Cleveland has been
grilling ribs since 9AM
and bot­tle rocket blast­ing since
June 15th.

My son runs off — but Antonio,
thumbprinted mark of Cain
beshoul­dered, 
ever-bel­liger­ent, 
red­mopped stut­terer with 
metal-backed teeth — comes to spit self-con­scious
im­pu­dence. He may sway to 
full-bore bully in an­num
but now the ques­tion growl­ing in his seven-year skull re­mains
unan­swered. I fa­ther at him, a learned herd­ing, out­flank,
astray, askance, a thwart to de-rile his style.
Girls with fresh breasts, too shy
to show their bikinis un­der shirt, come 
tell me how cute my son is. Girls not much younger
take turns sit­ting on spout of foun­tain­spray, hands trick­ling
down…
ever all-pur­sued by some om­nipresent brown brawl of boys, 
stum­ble-tongued and
puppy-ea­ger.

And I feel my age as
the only par­ent here — adrift of vigor — cross-legged on a thread­bare blan­ket
palms flat into 
ground grit — A tart
mag­na­nim­ity, and all these young run­ning to be old. 
As chil­dren sus­pect we
with­hold — I clutch this.
It is right to keep from them.
The pat­ri­mony, my first
taste of en­tropy as cool lemon­ade. 
I died when my life be­came my child’s.
Already my blood 
only heats be­tween hot
con­crete and sky blaze. As some­thing done grown,
I watch this pack of grow­ing things.

A soggy neon el­lip­sis with spi­rals of wa­ter
flung as it flies. A poor throw brings 
the ball to
the feet of 
Antonio
and
the chil­dren all shout
his name. All shout his
name. A bend and I see 
fin­gers squeeze 
wa­ter; drops 
stut­ter pool­side, the metal
creak of the life­guard stand.
ALL shout his name.
A choice made but in­ept arm
be­trays — launched in the 
gen­eral vicin­ity of
no one. 

An erup­tion
of wa­ter and from the scrum sud­denly
the whole pool is play­ing catch. 
Old men and life­guards, my son
astride my shoul­ders arms aloft
and we all shout his name. All
brought to life for
what I’ll re­mem­ber as — amid sun and the shad­ows of lost dogs — the mo­ment
when
Antonio was king.

5 thoughts on “At Lincoln Park Pool

Speak your piece