Letter to 7-Year-Old Son as I Watch Him Learn to Swim at the YMCA

Where does all this trust come from?
You couldn’t fall fast enough.
Trust me. There is a depth you do not know.
The lifeguard tells you 3 feet is as deep
as you can go without me. I know better.
I’ve read article after article. A parent turns
their head for a second. Disaster. My care
is flawed. Even now, I’m writing this
as you tread water in the shallow end.

I remember the day they handed you to me.
I strapped you in a borrowed car seat.
I thought, Madness. You were trusted to my hands
and I wondered at my capability,
something I hadn’t done in years. How ready I was
to drown in you. How sure I was
that if sucked under
you would bring me back –
gasping.

This is a reprint of work originally published in Fleshed.

Leigh Anne Hornfeldt, a Kentucky native, is the author of East Main Aviary, The Intimacy Archive, and Fleshed (forthcoming from Winged City Chapbooks, 2016). She is the editor at Two of Cups Press and a recipient of a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. In 2013 her poem “Laika” placed 2nd in The Argos Prize competition and in 2012 she received the Kudzu Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in journals such as Spry, Lunch Ticket, Foundling Review, and the Journal of Kentucky Studies.

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