[I leap into the public swimming pool]

Paul Tran


I leap into the public swimming pool
                  Sun-gilded water gluts my lungs
        It seizes the space my body carves through 

like a penny chucked into a fountain
                  A wish for my suffering to end
        I pay the price to reenter the universe unstained

Ignorant of what people do to each other
                  The more I know him the less I understand
        The less I understand the more I know him

—Father who fought an un-winnable war
                  Father a smear in my throat
        Father swinging me over his shoulders

my tiny fists pounding his wide brown back—
                   I think I can stay here
         An archipelago returning to the sea 

A child refusing to be touched again
                  Death puts its mask on me
        and I stop breathing

Feelings melt away
                  Speech’s a lifeguard off-duty
        It cannot save me

In my passage from oblivion
                  I hear gulls gliding overhead
        A xylophone of bubbles burst

on the plash’s blurry blue-burnt surface
                  I close my eyes and see a foehn
        sizzling on a palm’s emerald surface

I open them
                  and its leaves