Swimming Down

An armored shark in lava, I move on all fours across the rug as your daughters leap over me shrieking. With an unblinking eye, I feel the heat of the earth rise—its erupting egg, yolk-rug, and the shore of the bed—as we play. 

That night you wake up to tell me you are sinking underwater. Half-asleep, I say water in dreams always means emotion. I think I feel a pair of cool hands pressing on my temples, a vial of cooking oil in my pocket…

I think of your girls and my hands flutter to tangled hair. Nearly asleep again, I’m listening to myself as a child—sloshing water in the bath, catching a fluff of bubbles in my hand.

I leave before they get up for school, and I take in the sky as I unlock my door, steam puffing up into the black. I was pulled from a car once at this hour, the middle of a soybean field, to look at Haley’s Comet. My father urging me, wake up, wake up! It’s the only time you’ll see this in your life! This piece of cotton in the sky. This fireball, this chunk of ice.

It burns! And as I seize myself in mock pain, I fall into the lava. I fall—through the rug, the ceramic tile, the layers of ground—into a core that shines, impossibly, white.

 

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