Molecules of clean chlorine
break over my swim cap as I push past
fatigue, breathing bubbles. I begin another
spin down the chemically pristine and
I think of Eddie’s agile arm
slicing through the ocean water:
butter knife to Wonder bread. Shaving bits of mold off
the block of cheddar cheese, emptying
a can of Campbell’s tomato
soup into the small copper saucepan. Swedish
bibles and bird baths, even owl boxes
We would collect pine cones in big black garbage bags and
two shiny new quarters would flick their way from
his calloused palm to mine.
Cool and confidently silver-
like him. His practiced hands
whittled me a picket fence from which to sing
behind, erected a sunroom screened and finely
shadowed. He molded model airplanes and solved
a thousand piece puzzles.
His camcorder captured
every birthday, Easter egg hunt, eagerness of Christmas morning, but never
THE CARVING OF THE BIRD.
THE CARVING OF THE BIRD was his patriarchal duty.
Those shoulders hoisted children. Those hands held war. That mouth tasted Great
Depression. That heart saw God in the daily
bread and chores and grind.
And all those VHS tapes now dusty in their uselessness joined
the ties and sweaters and wool caps and toothbrush;
the bottle of Breck shampoo and bar of Irish Spring;
the essential things that maketh a man a hospitable being
in big black garbage bags at the end of the drive for curbside pickup.
But this time no quarter
finds my fingers and no pine
scent comforts me as I
tie that knot, as I
cry, swallowing my should-haves.
A related musing freestyles toward me, hurtling me
forward as I move through the blue.
A dirty recollection,
it uncomfortably snags, encumbering my length, interrupting my ballast.
A brooder. A lover of art and menthol
cigarettes, a sender
of poetry to my inbox.
He was black and he never met
my Eddie. I was afraid of the questions.
Eddie spoke of “Japs” and “Blacks” in hushes. His views on others were thickly
buttered by war and notions preconceived; he might could sit
in blissful ignorance,
in saccharine surface smiles, steeped
in privilege colored white. Tea
was sweet and nog was spiked and racism nothin’
but mustard seed-sized and
Do I reconcile my hero with his human side? And
Does silver have to tarnish? And
where? Might casual bias hide?
Why, these little seeds live insidious in
our inky places, their roots feeding confederacy and breeding
blindness for joy rides, farming facts into bite-sized
digestible lies, like bees drown in honey,
like fired-up sugar. This deep-fried heartburn
an inevitable tree
housing birds, holding bees, rooting worms, spreading seeds…
So, you see:
even the insignificant can gather
infinitesimal matter and flash flood the banks of southern comfort and safety and
here I swim,
cutting water like him, wishing
I could alter history.
A woman’s guilt.
This woman’s guilt.
Damn it! I named my son after you.
I find you in his eyes: that
ice blue twinkle, Viking steel, iron spirit,
I need to be still.
So I seize the pool
wall, give its roughness leave to have its way
with me. A wet and sharp inhale and I palely
realize I have my own
mustard seed. In him
is my chance to root it right and raise my son with light, in soil.
I can cultivate; it’s not too late.
Since he shares your blue and since
blue prisms light and since
seeds are hoarders of future days, I don’t need to be afraid
of new Eddie’s hard questions.
My guilt need not be a guillotine.
My guilt can be a catapult.
My guilt can be a laxity.
I swim a lap of luxury, a clarion pull through
blue from something old to something new.
Abigail Hawk is an award-winning New York-based actress whose work has been seen on such television shows as Body of Proof, The Jim Gaffigan Show, and Law and Order: SVU. Perhaps she is most recognizable as fiesty Detective Abigail Baker, the unflappable right hand of surly but lovable Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) on CBS’ Blue Bloods. Hawk’s silver screen work includes Almost Paris, which was directed by Domenica Cameron-Scorsese and premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. She also served up some sassy salon owner sauce in rom-com Rich Boy, Rich Girl, and played opposite Chevy Chase and Howard Hesseman in the feel-good holiday feature A Christmas in Vermont. Abigail currently resides on Long Island with her husband, two sons, dog, two cats, four fish, and one snail. Her favorite foods are coffee and wine and the fastest way to her heart is through following her on Instagram.