Post Road Magazine #29

The Diving Platform

Kate Daniels

Halfway across the lake's dark span
The diving platform glittered, somehow
Suspended on the surface of the water.
Somehow tethered. Somehow floating.

It looked like an ice cube, he thought,
In a giant's mug of poison broth.
It looked like a tablet of aspirin, as yet
Undissolved in a sick man's gut.

It looked like a sturdy crust of cooked onions
Carmelized on the cooling surface of a bowl
Of soup.  And it looked like a scab,
A monstrous healing, overgrowing
A wound that should have been sutured
But was left, instead, to heal messily, all on its own.

If he started now, he could reach it
Before he had to dress for the ceremony.
Before he had to free the rented finery
From its cloudy shroud of plastic sheets, and fit it
To his body, tightening the blood-hued
Cummerbund around his waist, and clicking
Studs and cufflinks securely into place
At neck and wrists.  Before he had to scrub

The unworn soles of the black dress shoes
To remove the words his brother had chalked—
HELP on left and ME on right—
So when he knelt beside her to receive
The blessing, no one would know
How he really felt.

For generations, her family had farmed
There, in the fields watered by the pond
The diving platform anchored in.  And not one
Of those persevering men could say exactly how far down
It was, how many murky feet of water before he'd touch
The bottom. 
            So when he saw her there
On the other side of the lake, dropping her towel
And striding straight into the water, and shallow-
Diving in, and striking out for the platform
In the middle, he understood how it would be.
That he would swim out, too, and meet her
There, and they would sit together on the platform
Anchored in the deep, cold water for awhile,
Just keeping company, drying in the sun.

For Ted and Catherine Prescott


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