* * *
When My Son Jumped Into the East River to Save New York From a Bomb
I tried to remember how he’d learned to swim—
I must have taught him—
but trying to remember reminded me of squinting
at a line of optometrist’s letters,
that fuzz of recognition that clears or disappears
blink by blink.
What I did remember was how at seven or eight
he loved diving from the high board,
how I never took my eyes off the spot
where he’d gone in
before he surfaced, seal-slick, hunting praise.
And as one memory bears another
I’m back at the ocean the day
lifeguards waved everyone out—
breakers swelling, clouds wheeling
like murmurations of starlings
as my son waded farther away from shore,
ignoring my cries until in the slantwise rain,
when he could barely stand,
he turned around.
In between so much is curtained.
Even when the letters come into focus,
sharp as any lens can render,
they spell nothing that makes sense.
* * *