FLOAT: A SWIMMING LESSON IN THE VOICE OF MY FATHER

JULIAN RANDALL

And if you planning to carry this blood,
you best learn how to float

I know you can run
but you gotta trust me boy   there’s still time
for you to learn how little the ground got to offer you

Look at the video from all those Februarys
what do Black people know about freedom
that ain’t come from being forced
into some other man’s water?

If you can’t tame the tide that brought us here
it will pull you back you have to learn  how to play
dead sometimes
if you want to live

I used to swim for Country Day back when I was your age
and the city was only  hot enough
to summon steam but not smoke

Back in the summer of ’69 I used to hustle white boys over in University City
watch the sun pulse a steady warsong down their backs
and dive

you should have seen the looks on their faces
they’d never seen something so dark
floating and not move towards one after life or the other
I mean shit you’d think they’d seen a ghost
or their own hands or some such nonsense

You wouldn’t believe it
until you have to
the faces they make when you come back up
breathing

what I’m saying is you can spend half a life playing dead
But the water doesn’t wait for anyone.
but if you want to move forward you have to learn
how easy a hand becomes
a blade

Advertisements

One Comment

Add yours →

  1. Many echoes of Elizabeth Bishop in here, her one of lights on the shores as she’s afloat. Thanks for sending this poem aloft!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: