First lesson

Lie back daughter, let your head 
be tipped back in the cup of my hand. 
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread 
your arms wide, lie out on the stream 
and look high at the gulls. A dead- 
man’s float is face down. You will dive 
and swim soon enough where this tidewater 
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe 
me, when you tire on the long thrash 
to your island, lie up, and survive. 
As you float now, where I held you 
and let go, remember when fear 
cramps your heart what I told you: 
lie gently and wide to the light-year 
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.

Philip Booth

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