My grandfather—German
With shoulders of granite,

Of beer and blue skies,
Blast furnaces—grew impatient

When he learned that, at four,
I still had not learned to swim.

He hoisted me in summer air,
Spun me out over

The sluggish murk and let go.
I swore the river had no bottom.

The wind was wasp and pollen,
Charred pork and dragonfly.

I smacked the sun-fierce surface
With a sharp cold crash,

Then silence and stunned slowness.
I finned and swung,

Hung between what glows above
And what pulls below.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 28 Number 2, on page 31
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