Snakes in the tall grass, sprinklers ticking
the first time he forced my head underwater.
I counted seconds in the blue, planetary
flecks on the concrete wall underwater.
He pulled me up, then the game repeated
itself. He held me down underwater.
I learned to play tough and not tell him
to stop when he pushed me back underwater.
Hornets bobbed like a crowd in a stadium
above the pool. I was held underwater,
the sun an off-white flare of gardenia
petals arrowing through the water.
I watched them darting, imagined patterns:
stem, flower, stem. Underwater
I could barely see him as the sky blurred
behind us. It got darker underwater.
More, he said as I pulled up my trunks
and squinted. I went back underwater.
My voice still shakes. As if part of me
had been made from all that water.