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Float: A Swimming Lesson in the Voice of my Father

by Julian Randall

And if you planning to carry this blood,
you best learn how to float

I know you can run
but you gotta trust me boy   there’s still time
for you to learn how little the ground got to offer you

Look at the video from all those Februarys
what do Black people know about freedom
that ain’t come from being forced
into some other man’s water?

If you can’t tame the tide that brought us here
it will pull you back you have to learn  how to play
dead sometimes
if you want to live

I used to swim for Country Day back when I was your age
and the city was only  hot enough
to summon steam but not smoke

Back in the summer of ’69 I used to hustle white boys over in University City
watch the sun pulse a steady warsong down their backs
and dive

you should have seen the looks on their faces
they’d never seen something so dark
floating and not move towards one after life or the other
I mean shit you’d think they’d seen a ghost
or their own hands or some such nonsense

You wouldn’t believe it
until you have to
the faces they make when you come back up
breathing

what I’m saying is you can spend half a life playing dead
But the water doesn’t wait for anyone.
but if you want to move forward you have to learn
how easy a hand becomes
                                            a blade

 
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