Do you remember that glorious morning before the war
when I swam you out into the sea,
against your mother’s warning of urchins
scouting the rock water for rays?
You holding too tight around my neck, laughing,
encouraging me over the blue space beneath our feet.
You were not punctured by urchins that day.
Or, the time on the beach when, paddling,
a wave floored you and slowly began to gather you
and I ran into the water to claim you back?
Your security was always my purpose little one,
there was never any question.
Our that this was our time and this comfort I should cherish
because one day I would peter out,
that there was a future that would happen only to you.
Now we have returned to the sea
against your mother’s better judgement
and there is no shore in sight, no rocks,
just the two of us swimming away.
I presume your mother and brothers have drowned with everyone else
and it’s you and me, just as we once liked it to be
though we don’t like it now – the dark water is rough
and you are mute, holding too tight again
shivering in your heavy clothes.
And I am quiet with reckoning
quiet between shouting to reassure you,
splashing turns to look into your eyes, kissing your head.
I am full of wonder at the idea that I have failed
and that your future might not in fact be realised,
that now is all you have left.
Thinking, if I am going to die soon
it would be kindest to drown you first
so that I might hold you, provide some comfort –
I really cannot leave you alone.
Thinking, how the hell is this possible,
thinking, how long can I delay?