& for the parts of us treading

I know a boy born
in the month of water
Agua, l’eau—by any name
he loves it so

He does not yet fathom
what water wields
beyond keeping him alive
since floating
within his mother’s
sea not long ago
Tiny tides in his cells
The early pleasure of
being quenched
His body simply gets
the sacrament of saltwater
Collisions of air
baptizing all skin

Toddler scientist at his station
testing how it soaks through
paper towels, clings to blue plastic
& hair, rolls off arms, pools
on the floor but sinks into carpet
Darkens cracked pavement
The boot’s sudden tsunami
on a rainy day
The splash of hands
coming together
in ruckus & praise

Without knowing he knows
that frozen lakes & bowls
half-full sing when touched
& on a quiet day
if you listen close the voices
underwater say things
He knows without knowing
by the strong fountain
in his chest feeding
fast streams
Peering out from the wide
wet windows of his head
into a world
daring him to dive in

He is too young to know
of threat, rules or ruin
Striding toward the waves
like he owns them
& he could keep walking
past turtles & rays & coral
to Atlantis
He still spends most of his days
in the bright boat
of his imagination
where Moms are mostly
amazing shipmates except when
they don't notice you became
a merman in the bathtub
& move too quickly
before you are ready for
your scales & tail to disappear
To return to what is often too real
on these shores

He doesn’t know about the boys
she elegizes in poems
Resting beneath waves
bound & thrown there
Or her fervent mission
to keep him above them
at any cost

He just knows how far
he can launch his own spit
The gurgle of his baby sister’s laugh
The tinkle of potties, the pull
& release of a spray bottle on plants
How mist tickles eyelids & cheeks
Mesmerized by suds sliding
down a drain
He is that magic age when
he just knows miracle
Stay there
Stay there
& stay there beautiful nephew
Keep your gills as long as you can
Take your boat out as far as you want
until dinner
until bedtime
Then go back again & again
Take as much time in the world
as you can