Learning to Float, Hour One

Learning to Float

I was six when Jaws the movie was released.
We lived in Florida,
a short bike ride to the beach,
and not too far to a favorite drive-in theater either.

Tinny speakers hung from the windows
of our ’76 full size van,
the scent of popcorn wafted through
partial openings, and technicolor gore
splashed across the enormous screen
in front of my terrified eyes,
my sun browned body hunched in the back
between two much larger brothers.

Our next trip to the beach
no way on this planet would I go in the water.
My frustrated father
peeled my iron rod body off his neck,
laid me on the water’s surface,
and spoke gently to me.

My rigid little body
slowly relaxed into the waves’ rhythms,
lulled by the rocking motion,
the flickering sun flirting
with clouds beyond my closed lids,
outer sounds distilled
to just my heartbeat,
as I dreamed
and felt his hand
beneath my back.

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