Sunday, January 11, 2009

"My Son, Under the Waterfall"

a poem by Alan Michael Parker

The weight of what falls surprises, the solidity of
the slapping water, its constant and different pressures,

the way when you're thirteen everything seems
not to have happened, life itself, and yet be

dumped upon you, and you can spread wide
your arms, wide as the rest of July, and still

be filled with feeling while holding nothing,
like a movie screen, or the voice of the girl

who called on a Friday to ask about the homework.
Moss slimes the rocks, cattails rim the pools,

and the water rushing to arrive through the cut
feels like sunlight on your skin if only sunlight

would have mass and volume and pound
your head and shoulders, and with your mouth open

breathing is like laughing and laughing
is like breathing, and the surprise persists,

the sense of being between elements and standing up
in your swim trunks and sandals as though

on land and swimming at once,
and your resolve also matters, to keep hold

of these feelings, of each single feeling
no matter the future, to stay true to what you feel

and not to give the next kid a turn, the long line of
campers beginning to chant your name, and you

pretend not to hear, deafened by the lovely
crushing of the water on your head.

"My Son, Under the Waterfall" by Alan Michael Parker, from Elephants and Butterflies. © BOA Editions, 2008. Reprinted with permission.

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