Water Music

Photograph by Jose Padua
My mother and father never
took us to the ocean. We
always stopped at the bay.
The waves were rarely fierce
there, the sand, I think, not
nearly as fine. My mother
and father grew up on islands,
which meant they were never
far from the water. I never
learned to swim, which means
I stay away from the deep end
of the pool. I can’t speak Tagalog,
which means I can’t talk to my
own people in anything
resembling a native tongue.
My mother and father were
together for over forty years,
then my mother died. Eighteen
years later it was my father.
The things my mother and
father passed on to me aren’t
always clear. There are hours
when everything is panic and
dread, followed by stray moments
of bliss or just what some might
call a conventional sense of
security and well-being. Sometimes
I think I’ve learned how to
breath, how to stand tall amidst
indifference and everything that’s
worse. And, here and there, beneath
the dimming clouds, there are
days when as I look through
the fog and its bleak distance
to the ocean, I’m convinced
I can learn how to swim.

-Jose Padua

The photograph, by Jose Padua, was taken on the John B. Whealton Memorial Causeway on the way out of Chincoteague, Virginia.

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