In harder play,
I held you maybe five, six under
at Kent Park reservoir,
cookout, walk, ice cream,
the biggest blackberries in Iowa,
a 4H entry for the State Fair, for sure!
laughing so hard
the August juice ran down your chin,
jumping back in.
You tugging my legs, splashing too much perhaps,
So I held you under longer, laughing,
muffling your gurgled flail.
I swear it was only seconds, only joking,
you came up gasping, gulping
and we paddled apart, doing dead-man floats.
You’d always remind me, later,
but I meant no harm.
Oh, tell me again,
how long I washed your face once in snow,
done under, after too many snowballs
you packed mean, your aim sure.
I took advantage, knowing
we’d always come up after.
practice, for your walk into water
—something mad always tails something funny—
seventeen years later,
streaming, deliberate, dazed.
And the harm