When I dove into the
water, I saw the girl’s body, hardly visible at first, the water fogged on
the bottom of the pool, where she was, on her knees, face down, folded over,
her swaying arms outstretched, like one toward Mecca, like a body before God.
And as I got closer, I could see her unconscious hands slightly curled, her
fingertips tracing indiscriminate paths along the concrete. I could see the
dark plume of her hair, weightless, like smoke slow to diffuse, moving in
concert with the debris of black leaves and withered spiders, all rising and
It wasn’t until years later that I
remembered what she looked like laying on the pool floor, the way her body,
coming to terms with the white panic in the brain, with the lungs filled with
water, had sunk into so specific a pose. How it had gone so deliberately to
the knees, so gracefully, how the falling hands must have arced in slow
worship, how the forehead must have descended to kiss the concrete like some
holy cloak. And that body, prostrate, was it not in prayer for all creation?
It’s supple lilt like a hymn for all this dusty matter? For all its
brokenness redeemed in moments—when shattered light dances around a body
eight feet under water, when the light touches it in spite of the depth—and
was I not a witness to that improbable grace, that moment, how it seems
familiar in a way I can’t describe, like an old dream suddenly remembered?
Let me try to say it another way. When I was little, I saw a half
circle of light being cast by the sun through a window onto the couch. I
remember how bright it was, how the resolute beam cut across the room and
illuminated the air and exposed a hundred thousand dust particles floating
aimlessly, as if I were seeing through to the world, as if some deeper
yearning was met in view of that light. All I can say is that when I pressed
my hand against that shape of light on the couch cushion, the heat of it
jarred me and I didn’t know why.
Or when the girl came to and opened her eyes, the water having foamed
from her lungs, she screamed, confused, not realizing she’d been away.
Jad Adkins lives in Georgia, where he misses West Virginia.
Archived at http://lit.konundrum.com/poetry/adkinsj_poems.php
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