[“My father stands in the swimming pool of time”]

My father stands in the swimming pool of time

That cement sink in the backyard around which

Kids’ teeth were chipped as they scampered, dripping,

Mouths full of birthday cake, unheeding

All parental caution to slow down.

My father paints the steps to the swimming pool of time

Every spring, for the past twenty-eight springs, he applies coat

Upon coat, always the same eggshell blue but with a different dog

Serenely watching over him, six feet deep and sweating,

A salamander inside a monochrome fresco.

My father leans against a mop in the swimming pool of time

For his sons and daughter, now for his daughter’s daughters

Who hear nothing metaphoric in his quiet work –

The repetition and rhythm of brush- and broomstrokes –

Nothing major in the unambiguous songs of birds and jetplanes.

My father coils a garden hose in the swimming pool of time

Empties its deep end of acorns, mud and branches

And the fake plastic coins the girls went diving for but soon


Nearly seventy, every bit the skittish swimmer he was at ten, he stands

Above the drain, looking up, straight into the sun, then down again.

New Jersey. May 2011.