The Backstroke and Beyond

mama’s hem was first crutch – dad’s trouser leg came then
steadily we tried to grasp the upright position
keen to give up crawling – to be just like other men
and somehow or other we passed the audition;

the ways of our fathers – we took in with mother’s milk:
who we were, who they were, to which the velvet, which the cotton;
nothing more important though than kith and kin …our ilk
and the hidden costs of all this? Unknown, perhaps forgotten;

wedded to our mythic forebears, lotsa fabled Big Begetters
[one wonders if there’s one among us singular at all]
if only folks bent down to glean sweet charity midst the letters –
I mean, if there were lesser fallout after the fall.

Listen friend, these ships might prove less sturdy than they seem
[even when you’re piloting your very own boat]
crash an iceberg – what remains? If you’re lucky, one strong beam;
best not even count on that – learn to face the sky… and float.

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