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Lessons

By Laura Lassor

I’m driving to swimming lessons.
Late afternoon, summer.
When I think of it now, everything slows
and the sun drips like syrup.

The windows are down,
the day whooshing against our skin.
My son wants to know so many things.
He tries,”You stopped growing, Mom.
So you aren’t getting older anymore.”

We’ve just passed the iron fence of the cemetery.
He is five and knows and doesn’t know
what is sunk below rolling lawn, gracious rows of etched stone.

My voice corrects him: “No, I am getting older,”
but now we are curving past the lake,
where sails sway red and yellow, and if time
could stretch it might be here, in the shallows
where kids’ slick heads bob among the boats
like shiny toys strewn.

Next he asks me, “What’s invisible?”
I say oxygen. He says carbon dioxide.
I say love. He says germs.

The cars flow like rainwater.
There is so much to explain.
I talk about microscopes,
the difference between invisible
and too-small-to-see.
He is happy. He trusts in a machine
or a medicine for everything.

Then we’re at the pool,
and he’s immersed, shivering.
His small limbs won’t surrender
to his idea that he’ll float.
He kicks, coughs, and
behind goggles half-filled with water,
he finds me.

I am on my folding chair, looking back.
There are so many ways we are helpless.
There are so many afternoons like this
invisibly nudging us forward.

Laura Lassor is a lawyer, writer and improvisational parent living in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband Joel and her two sons, Clark and David.

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