I swim quick strokes past
the drop-off line. The lake
is rough without regard. I grip
a ladder rung, strung with algae,
look back to sand castles collapsed
on shore. Across the cove, houses
are lit with tempered lights
that bob in and out. Whose homes rest
so far away?
On the dock a mother, or my mother,
watches the waves. Frantic hands
motion a plea for some kind of return.
Today, I can tell you anything.
A lone swimmer rides a wave
into a glass house. She sings
a sailor’s tune for her children,
a song her father had sung.
What will her children
say about the seaman’s shanty?
She was in over her head,
over her head was she.