I stand tiptoe in our pool,
cool waters rising to my chin.
At four, I love our above ground pool
with its plastic walls and waves
rippling in slivers of sunlight
I can never quite catch with my fingertips.
I am proud of the pool and proud
of my fearlessness in standing alone on a
a bump of lawn covered in pool plastic.
I look up at a cloudless blue sky,
and water cradles my face.
I am almost floating. I spread
my arms, so happy to be standing here
bravely alone and so proud
of my handsome father who is happy
today, and who, if I am lucky
may take one of his running leaps,
from the lawn into the pool
in a graceful dive that sculpts
his muscular, youthful form.
One day he will teach me how to swim,
but for now swaying in the water
is so awkward. One day I will
be floating, or dipping underwater,
legs flapping like a mermaid’s tail.
On this day, my father is happy
and my mother is smiling,
at twenty two, so young and vulnerable
with her kettle-red hair
and her svelte, girlish figure.
Today we are enough for him, his laughing
daughters and our pretty mother.
Today, he will thrash the waters with his
scissor-like arms, feet a blur in a foamy spray.
I stumble back, splashing frantically,
frightened by the energy of his powerful strokes.
I am afraid of slipping off my plastic mound.
I am afraid of his leaving. I am afraid of so many things.