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.