A VACANCY OF WINGS | Samantha Barrow
He doesn't do the butterfly anymore
instead, caterpillars through the water
the gentle waves reverberating back from pool tiles
into swaddle shaped elder blankets
echoing death's next cocoon.
I watch the lavish wide huddle
of wet & bubbles
through the engulfing windows
of the YMCA
waiting for his palms to
split, spread and cup
as they fly up out of
I feel his hands on my childhood belly
bringing buoyancy to my frame
as I struggle to echo the rhythm he splashes in demo
thump THUMP P U L L Breathe fly sink
thumpTHUMP P U L L Breathe fly sink
His shoulders bob up the surface.
Anatomically it’s all there
but'amputated' flashes through my mind
I want to ask
Dad, what happened, are you ok?
Where did the wings go?
but must grow out of these childish cruelties today.
He was not expecting
to float like that again
He thinks he's doing
Samantha Barrow is a poet, writer and teacher. She directs the Medical Humanities program at the Sophie Davis/CUNY School of Medicine, and teaches in the Narrative Medicine Program at Columbia and the Health Advocacy Program at Sarah Lawrence.