Twelve months on, defining clumsy, my father will say,
That’s where you fell.
I’ll remember it more than anything else that happened
that Easter. More than the chocolate and freshly baked
buns. More than the sounds of his voice waking me
in a thick film of sweat.
A rock exposed by the tide,
like a blackened egg decorated with moss. A danger
unseen, I’d put my foot on it, minutes after my father
had put his rod down, to help my mother untangle
her line. And what occurs to me now when he says,
you fell hard,
is that he was scared. And it stops my breath. It was a
morning incapable of cold. I never once thought of the rocks
pulling me into darkness and doing it now, I’m back there
staring at my wading boots, wondering
the placement of them.
There are things I forget, like whose whiting was bigger
or exactly how many times I passed out. But more, there
are things I cannot separate. The colour of the river and
the sun, the metallic taste of blood in my mouth, it
goes on forever.
My father lay his rod down on the rocks and I went to wind
it in. It was the first time I heard the current in my blood.
The last time, now that I think about it, high in the heat and
glare, standing on the kind of rock you know you are
never safe from.