Gravel road to algae-caked pond. The YMCA pool is now a Walgreens parking lot. Tree static is wind plus leaves. The effect it produces when scanning rough footage—it’s the closest I’ve come: back, forward, spacebar, play, back, forward, again. When I plug in the lamp, I keep my finger between the silver prongs. When you come to, taste iron and charcoal. I’m fine. It’s fine. 

A young man taught me how to swim. Watch beads of water collect in his collarbones, their canyons. Pavement, gravel, dirt. Swimming is recreational drowning—on this point I will not budge. You’ve never met a clavicle you didn’t like; you’ve never gummed a collarbone that didn’t taste like a little like home. Pondscum. A raft in the water, crushed beer cans litter planks. My father sighs at the sight. Woods flattened after a storm. New vistas, flat maps. Growing older, you glue them together with spit. My father, in all truth, taught me how to swim—the young man only taught me how to flail. You are only bone; you sink like bone. The warped plank of the yard. When did fear become your dominant mode? Poor visual quality, audible hiss, rewind before returning or don’t. The walls of the old house are green. Does it make you more or less human? I walk to the edge of the light-blue diving board. When the walls are painted white, it’s a different house; don’t try to tell me different. What joker made the board resemble clear blue sky? At the far end of the pond, the water swamps. Skunk cabbage. Crush beneath your boot and inhale. Water to mud; water to firm shore. An arm or an arm of algae blooms. Smell Walgreens; smell chlorine. Varnished boards underfoot. Scoop the water, push as much as you can with your thin hands. Years later, a large lake. Muddy beach, long bridge spanning open water. Agenda: Stop treading the warm, dull liquid. Push the air from your lungs. When you sink, feel the surface of the lake like a sky. When you come back up? Breathe water, swallow air.

William VanDenBerg
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