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BACKSTROKING

Backstroking


My arms dig into the puddles of light.
The chlorine steam keeps rising.

 

Each breath I take, amplified by water,
still crashes against my eardrums.

 

But now, I stare up at some sky
that couldn't have been this elemental

 

blue two weeks ago, before my father
drifted from attachments.

 

Not that I picture him there above me,
lifeguarding from eternity.

 

There's just a difference
in the light I backstroke through --

 

where absence, newly angled,
reflects across flat water

 

and like water, changes all the colors,
textures, gravities.

 

When the sky ashes over, I think it couldn't
have been this gray two weeks ago.

 

This must be my father, tangled
in air he just swam through.


-- originally published in Poetry International