a white sheet
drawn over me at night,
my naked body unaccustomed to the weight.
I’ve never swum in a river
for fear of tides
and my dead uncle.
My father made us learn to swim in pools
even as he stood on the edge, himself unable.
Vacations, my mother left with her sister, shopping, while
my father stood guard at the pool.
I think of it now.
He was helpless, should anything have gone wrong.
But still he stayed. He watched.
He toweled us off when we were done.
But rivers were forbidden.
I think of that now, on the river’s edge
as I pour his ashes slowly in.
Heidi Slettedahl is an academic and a US-UK dual national who goes by a slightly different name professionally. She has been published sporadically in small literary journals, most recently by Picaroon Poetry.
Artist: Evan Sloan