Good Friday, 1998

My son hovers over me

jangles knees on the diving board

begs me: Come closer;


then jumps. I catch him,

plunge deep under the bursting water,

his small body holding me down


while I kick, both feet flailing

towards the pool’s floor,

I almost inhale water,


the smell of chlorine

snakes through my sinuses

until my head feels the cold air above the pool’s surface


and I breathe silver air,

still holding my son aloft, then cough water

through my nose and mouth


before grabbing a lane marker for support.

A week earlier, my son asked me

if I would die for him. Sure, I told him.


I love you more than my own life.

I was wrong. Now I know I love our lives as one

because my children have come to me.


I want to live to dance at my son’s wedding,

watch my daughter’s daughter dance a ballet

in her flannel pajamas, see their lives


grow from mine, a fairy ring of green trees,

my trunk rising and falling like

a crucifix, a fruit tree, a tree under which one sits,


pointing me towards my first father,

his son, their spirit dance

of sacrifice, death and life.


by Paul Totah April 13, 1998


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