My brother claimed first the motel room we would
all later share; on the farthest edge
of the farthest bed, he hunched over his guitar,
the red Mustangís solid body unplugged--
his songless strumming thin, antagonistic.
Just outside the door in a folding chair,
my father studied again the intricate
vasculature of his map, and my mother,
who could not swim but who no doubt would have
saved me anyway, looked up now and again
from her novel with a languid wave.
The only one it mattered to, I would have
had to beg for it--the neon pool glowing,
moths at first dark exhausting themselves against
the humming promise of the water vacancy
now tinted the pale green of ink--illegible.
My favorite place to be was just beneath
the surface, the underwater pool lights
coming on with night. Weightless, I hovered
around a dome of convex glass, a cool,
thick hemisphere not much bigger than the splay
of my hand--and imagined deadlights
set into the massive hull of a ship
adrift, windless, my family on its deck--
my motherís muffled call disappearing
after them into those fathomless sources
of small light I did not want to give up,
plenty of air yet in the joyous hold of my lungs.
- Claudia Emerson (from Valparaiso Poetry Review)