Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Back to Back" - Debra Kang Dean

At sixteen my mother had been a swimmer.
I have seen a picture of her

poised at the edge of the pool, knees bent,
hands on knees, and smiling with her teammates.

My aunt once said back then she swam
as gracefully as Esther Williams.

But that is not how I remember her.
It is when I am sixteen and a runner

and am forever wanting to stand against her,
back to back, to see who's taller;

however much I stretch I still come up
an inch short. I've called her up

to have her drive me home from practice.
We ride home in utter silence

after my curt "thanks" and her nod,
not for a lack of feeling, but for want of words.

Following her in, cleats slung over my shoulder,
I tell her to wait, I'll help her.

Already she's at the sink, peeling potatoes
and humming, one foot lifted like a flamingo.

(not for lack of feeling, but for want of words.)

No comments: