Makes the Step
By Jeff Salter
Our assignment for this week was vague enough – and last week I had my say about Halloween – that I decided to break ranks … and break the season as well.
This is a flashback not only to a different season (summer) but to the early 1980s —probably 1981 or 1982. We were ‘vacationing’ at a place called Hot Springs Village.
At the pool, my daughter – then about 6 or 7 years old – decided she’d finally jump off the high board. In August 1991 – some 9 or 10 years later – I featured that experience in a poem.
Most of my blog readers are ladies … and many of you are mothers. I thought it might be interesting to share one of my Father-Daughter moments. Here it is:
Makes The Step
By Jeffrey L. Salter
My daughter on the high board:
ready, she insists, to jump.
I’m dubious – she’s so tiny –
but it’s okay if she’ll wait ‘til I position myself
where I can grab her when she surfaces.
The lifeguard doesn’t challenge me
about swimming to the middle of the deep end
and treading water
while she gathers her nerve.
I don’t want to rush this (or push her)
but I’m getting weary.
My arm movements make ripples
like lop-sided rings of a liquid target.
Poised way above, over this bulls-eye,
she calls down, “Are you ready?”
“I’ll be right here when you come back up,” I promise.
The air is cool
and there’s a steady shiver in my slender parcel
as she takes a deep breath,
holds her nose with both hands,
and makes the step
that sends her plummeting to the surface below.
She comes up with eyes closed,
breathes in sharply and clings to my neck
as we make our way to the ladder.
“I did it, daddy!” she sputters,
apparently more surprised than I am.
and her heart pounds heavily against my chest.
“Yes, baby, you sure did.”
She’s made many other big steps,
before then and after.
Each time I’ve waited – treading water –
outlining her landing area:
far enough to be out of the way,
but near enough to grab her when she surfaces.
“I’ll be right here when you come back up,” I remind her,
and I pray my arms will last out my promise.
Published: Sunday At Four Vol. 1, No. 2 (Spring 1992)
Published: BreeZe Vol. 1, No. 33 (Aug. 31, 2007) p. 8
[It’s also been posted in poetry displays two or three times]
Do you remember YOUR first jump from the high board? How about the first time one of your kids made that momentous step?