Chest-deep, my brothers and I, the waters of Comet Pond leaping at our little hearts 
as we held on for dear life, shrivel-fingered, blue, to the cement boat dock,
as far as we dared go, the self-declared demarcation of our drowning,
our father back on the blanket, lonely as Liechtenstein, his shirt still on, always,
the polioed hunch of his back like a boat overturned on a beach,
my mother swimming alone before us, back and forth, smoothly, shining,
this one time and never again. Soon she would come in to us, gleaming,
pack up the blanket, the basket, sit like silence next to my father all the way home,
their heads and shoulders looming before us, the Scylla and Charybdis
we knew even then we would have to get past to make our way in the world.

But for now, for just this moment, she glowed. She showed us,
moving like language along the water, like handwriting on the horizon,
that even in the oceans of darkness that would come,
the long rivers of abandoned office buildings on a Sunday afternoon,
the silent crow’s-nest shadows of all the true angels of death,
the first step we would take from the train, alighting into the darkness
of our hometown, our mother and father no longer there to meet us,
their shadows long gone, run off and drowned somewhere —
There will be these moments, she said, smiling, as she turned on her back,
floating, moments like diamonds in our hands, candles on the waves,
that we could make our way to them, hold them one by one,
the gold buttons of the opera singer as he changes music into light,
the smile on the face of your lover as she closes the door and turns to you,
the twilight that gathers all afternoon in the nave of the cathedral,
the silver beads of water on the head of the baby being baptized,
the breath she takes in like a dream and lets go.