C.N.P Poetry 

  • Cathexis Northwest Press

“The Bottom”

By: Jeff Showalter

When Dad would take my brother & me swimming at the secret pool during summer dusk when the low country summer breaks, he was a fish, a rock, a skate, and an anchor. 

A dive of bubbles as he released his lungs & would sit as calm & still as the bottom. 

How he could hold the pose longer than a nap. My brother & I from giggles to pain, to abandon. 

When he had his stroke, we were older, I was at the hospital. I saw his slack body—the calm confused flesh. His eyes, however, were air-sparks of fear. How days & months after, he couldn’t form the right words & had trouble with memory.  I then paddled above him scared & alone; my brother now a doctor coaching me. 

He came back, often just a big inhale only to sink again. The quick joy we shared & then the same anxious heartbeat. If life is rain & we are puddles, what are clouds? 

Heaven is a concrete gritty pool covered in shade of spanish moss & pine needles & I’m laying along aside him, finally understanding.

Learn how the water pushes us down, how we rise to breathe & choose to be angels that don’t fly. We’re exit of breath & return.                               I want to know him forever.

Jeff Showalter lives in Madison, Alabama with his wife, son & daughter. He holds degrees from the United States Military Academy, the University of South Carolina and the George Washington University Law School.

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