A Momentry

1 March 2018

Father thigh-deep in the sea
lapping gently against his body
carries me against his chest
his free hand peeling seaweed off
my feet his hips
flinging them aside
as he strides forward
stops and shifts me onto his back
then dog paddles into deeper water

Piggyback I look around us
am suddenly afraid cry out
Go back! Go back!
as shore birds flap our way
then veer back heading elsewhere
The dark mass of seaweed sways
between us and the shore

Ahead the sea rolls outward
to the curved sweep of the sky
Over Father’s shoulder
I peer down through glass
sunlight snaking downward
bathing the grassy bottom
sloping deep deep deep
I tighten my arms around his neck

But he holds me up
his pale feet treading water
his hands and arms sweeping the water
like bird wings stroking the air
hovering in place
Don’t look down he says

And I discover I am floating off his back
one hand resting on his shoulder—
blue sweep of sky
sun gilding the water
the warm sea reaching farther than the eye
and Father and I
poised in a moment
like birds hanging in the air

Flown away elsewhere forever


This poem first appeared in Memory’s Mercy: New and Selected Poems (University of the Philippines Press, 2015).

 


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