one year after his town
came into existence.
A beloved son of progress,
he was raised by an aunt
because while his busy mother
left on a train headed north
before he was two,
his old man never lived to get old.
Under the direct sunlight in his
my father, a child, worked in the coal mines
and helped power a locomotive
he wouldn't be allowed to ride.
He was around seven
when he first thought of an alternative way
by swimming down the river.
He was to rest on the banks when he
stopped feeling his arms,
live from fruit collected
out in the sticks and
sleep under the stars.
That would be his freedom.
It was one soultry afternoon after work
he learned how to swim,
by swallowing a small fish alive
in the shallow waters of the São Franciso river.
Everyone knew that was the only way.
I was seven myself
when he taught me everything
there was to know about swimming,
just in case.
I was excused from the fish.
(Shared with dVerse Poets)