Looking for a Lifeguard? Ours Walks on Water! — Kevin Brown

Cerulean blue, over-chlorinated
neighborhood pool, the first
full day of summer
vacation, and my sister
saves me

from drowning.
My mother told me
to avoid the part of the pool
three times

as deep as I was tall.
She told me
to start in the safe,
shallow end until
I remembered how to swim.
My mother told me.

So I headed to the highest board
and the deepest water
and threw my body in
without care or caution,
and I sank like

a leaf from the maples
that ringed the fence separating
the pool from my neighbors’
houses would four months later:

slowly, steadily, inevitably.
And my sister pulled my life back
from the bottom,
her hand grasping my hair
like a handle.

A mother would hope
her son learned a lesson
from such an event.
And I did.

I’ve spent the past forty years finding
more and more boards
and deeper and deeper pools:
I left one job after another—
and a marriage—
with no plan and little luggage,

left my hometown and high school
friends who stayed forever,
their children treading water
where we once did.

And I’ve never forgotten
how to swim again.


Kevin Brown is a Professor at Lee University. He has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press), in addition to a memoir and a book of scholarship.