On Transitory Elements

My inspiration comes from a piece called “When You Meet My Father” by Jordan Wilklund in the online journal Brevity.

The lake in January

On Transitory Elements

Ask me about Lake Winnipesaukee.

Ask me how the water rolled out before me as a shimmering plain in the morning.

Ask me how light glanced off waves: soft and silver.

Ask me from which direction the breeze came to tousle my blonde bob.

Ask me about the vibrancy of a habitually short summer.

Ask me how my mother arrived with beach chair in tow, a sturdy paperback under her arm.

Ask me why my sister didn’t have to take swim lessons at 8 am and I did.

Ask me why the oldest one always goes first.

Ask me why I insisted on squeezing into my nautical-themed swimsuit even though it fit too tight.

Ask me why I always had to pee but never used the bathroom.

Ask me how the water felt cool and smooth.

Ask me why I resented swim lessons.

Ask me why I refused to put my head under.

Ask me what types of creatures lived under the lake’s silken surface.

Ask me to list the names of the kids in my class.

Ask me how I knew who else wouldn’t put their head under.

Ask me to tell you about Chris.

Ask me why people become fathers.

Ask me why we leave friends behind.

Ask me about freedom from obligation.

Ask me what summer air felt like on my face when swim lessons were over.

Ask me about rebirth.

Ask me what my mom packed in the red plastic cooler.

Ask me to what degree I owed my life to sandy peanut butter and jelly.

Ask me how being slathered in Banana Boat sunscreen feels.

Ask me how much I complained.

Ask me what I didn’t know about sun.

Ask me about swimming with my sister.

Ask why she was taller than me.

Ask how she could have ever been the quiet one.

Ask me how afternoon was infinitely more electric than morning.

Ask me again about freedom from obligation.

Ask me about goggles that work as transforming agents.

Ask me about swim suits filled with sand.

Ask me how we became the creatures that scared me in the morning.

Ask me how we dug for clams at the bottom and shuttled them to a pile on the shore.

Ask me what a clam shells feels like: sharp edges, polyps covered in algae.

Ask me if they were really clams.

Ask me why we threw them back again.

And then ask me if six year olds have morals.

Ask me about digging sandy holes at the bottom.

Ask me what we hoped we could catch there.

Ask me about diving, kicking, flipping.

Ask me about the tickle of minnows slipping around legs.

Ask me how being a fish feels like you are something better than what you were before.

Ask me how elements combine.

Ask me why I never took chemistry.

And ask me why I sometimes believe in magic.

Ask me if fish are weightless when they swim.

Ask me why rivers are not the same as Lake Winnipesaukee.


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