Once at a hotel pool, I saw a woman speaking with subdued viciousness to her children while they prepared to swim and then tried to follow her many directions to not run, not splash, be nice to your sister. But when asked, she bent tenderly over the stick-thin arms of her little son and blew into the valve of his water wings, so he could float.
Ever since, I've wished I was a poet, so I could write a poem about it. About how the mother bent her head over the son, how the movement of her breath reminded me of the suckling that had sustained him once. If I was a poet, I would know if that was a good metaphor or not.
I would know how to write about how, even on the days when our resentment is deepest, we feed our children with our bodies, and then later hold them up with our own strong, ephemeral breath and then, last of all, send them out into the water to feed and breathe on their own.