My nine years old granddaughter,
all seventy slender, determined pounds of her,
full of moxie and grit and giggles and kindness,
having just learned how to breathe
in this new element,
is, for her first time,
stroking, kicking and splashing
her way out on the lake
towards the pontoon raft
floating forty yards from the beach.
Though I swim close beside her
and am tethered to my life guard board,
velcroed, ankle to stern,
she is, in her dolphin heart,
alone in the sea,
swimming to safety
conquering the turbulent surf
that is her split home life.
Fatigued, she, as I have taught her,
flips over onto her back,
grabs a few deep breaths.
I ask,”Need the board?”
“Nope!” she splurts,
rolls over and closes the remaining few yards
between her and the raft.
She reaches for the ladder,
climbs herself up, shouting her victory.
“Can I swim back or do I have to hold on?”
“Up to you, Baby Girl!”
She squeals a cannonball off the raft
and begins her suddenly smoother,
more confident strokes to the shore.
I linger a yard or so behind her.
She will make it on her own.
And she will know she can.