Swimming Lessons

Aziz held my hand, as I waded,

a five year old duck coming of age,

deeper we walk, balancing, as the blunt edges of the reef’s

coral were poking my virgin soles.

Remember, he said, just let yourself float,

close your mouth and – gwalop

a wave hits my face and passes over the top of my head.

Aziz laughed.

The little boy’s wet body now shivered as the afternoon breeze

began bouncing on the creek.

I’m up to my neck, kicking,

slowly, like a frog, my father had instructed before we left,

I could now hear my gasps and the clattering shouts of other boys mixed by the splash of braver swimmers

diving from the high cliff.

They too had passed this rite of initiation,

they too had become one with this sea.

I stirred my feeble arms, and began moving.

Kick, breathe.

Ha! I was happy, I was swimming.

Now I was growing up.

The sun was ablaze, fiery, radiant,

the full glory of its beam on an African coast.

Hold my hand, Aziz said, and keep kicking.

Yes, go on, no, not too hard.

This was euphoria, do we go to the other shore?

No, next time, he said, not yet.

The Big Old Fort behind us nodded in approval

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