To Be Five in Summer


To get to the pool, race past the boy in the superhero swim trunks. Carry your purse in the crook of your elbow, goggles and nose clip and a whole package of bandaids inside. Look both ways. Watch for reversing cars. The cow with the long eyelashes propped in the yard is so last month, why even mention it? While your mother finds a chair in the shade, sprint to the water. In! In! Until the lifeguard’s whistle means it’s time to get out. In the kiddie pool, the hose is for battles. Crimp and explode until your mother says stop or you’ll have to go home. You are smeared with sunblock and schooled in how to keep water from your goggles. Even the shallow end is still too deep, so daddy stays close.  The diving board was fun until you did a double bounce and then it was terrible. Terrible! You want the orange noodle, not the blue, a squirt of ketchup on your hotdog from your Uncle Rene. But you leave it on the table and leap back into the water. You will swim and swim chasing your cousin Lala who is taller and more thoughtful and all the way from California and who will save you if you go too far. Back home there’s a hula hoop and Incredible Hulk hands and a diary you would write your greatest wishes in if only you knew how to write. Lighter fluid drifts sharply to your nose, Pharrell’s “Happy” to your ears. Someday these Sundays will fade, become one giant day at the pool in which you ran and leapt and splashed and someone’s football sailed over your head and the noodle you wanted was always yours and parents bounced babies and told long stories and the water was only invitation. One more jump before you go. No, wait, just one more. And then you walk home, towel thrown over your shoulders, learning the gifts of the shady side of the street.

August 9, 2015


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