Swimming Down

By Holly Sinclair

Poem

An armored shark in lava, I move on all fours across the rug
While 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 were sinking.
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, 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
In 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 I seize myself in mock pain, fall
Into the lava—
Then through the rug, the tile, the layers of earth
Into a core that shines, impossibly, white.

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After earning an MFA in poetry from Arizona State University, HOLLY SINCLAIR taught for several years in Phoenix. She moved to St. Louis in 2012 where she tutored, lectured at Maryville University, and began writing creative nonfiction. Holly taught students at Lift for Life Academy before joining Seafoam Media in 2017. She has published poems and essays in the Burnside Review, Gone Dogs, and maximummiddleage.com.

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