In that dream, I watched the funnel writheabove the green ridge that was the edge of my child’s world,incredulous. Concluding it was real,
I’d gather father, mother, brother to lead them to the basement. There,I used a stool to peer through a window:
The single, imminent funnel had transformed itselfInto several tiny ones, smudges, or threadsthat unraveled on a far-distant horizon. Endowed with telescopic vision, I watched these little funnels, trying to understand,
and still I try. Was it God on the horizon, bearing down on us, to punish our faithlessness?
Or was it something else, that in the moment of my fearreversed itself, beginning a withdrawal, dividing itself into wriggling worms that only wished to bury themselves in the horizon, like any small animal hoping to evade a curious child,taking its mysteries back to its burrow?
Say this.Say these things are one and the same –the anger of an offended Godand the blind motions of wormsthat twist in a spadeful of soil,seeking the safe moisture of earth.
Underwater, I watch her: armshappily parting the water ahead,brown hair pulsing behind with the charmof mermaids. We catch our breath. Then,
she stands upon my knees to launchherself across the pool toward wife;returns without a pause, her hauncheschurning the aqua surface, head down,
one breath, until her fingers, like a prow, meet mine, and curl, her legs folding in to stand again on my knees, and nowsteadies herself to launch once more,
and at last I understand my job: to make myself a safe, strong place,a surface with a little bounceto let her launch herself toward space,
and there she seems to hang a moment, her tiny body dripping, above our watching world, until the splash returns us to time,and she surfaces – my grinning girl!
Clark Bouwman is an essayist and poet living in Richmond, California. His work has appeared in Gargoyle Online, The Dreaming Machine, The Antonym, Minimus, The Takoma Voice, and in the anthology Music Gigs Gone Wrong. Originally from the DC area, he and his wife moved to the bay area in 2018 to help with their grandchildren.