On July 7, Jason Russell, while saving his eleven-year-old son, Aaron, died in the waters of Lake Champlain.

I can’t stop thinking about that boy.  And about us. About forgiveness.

It Wasn’t Your Fault

A boy swims. Too far. Trouble
The ocean, as always, indifferent to struggle
A father unskilled dives to the blue
Willfully dies. It’s what fathers do.

The boy in a minute is several years older
The father’s shirt hangs over his shoulders
He stands on the shore, held by his mother
Photographers, gulls, impatiently hover

Desperately kissing his face the salt
Her hands, eyes cry, “It wasn’t your fault!”

It wasn’t your fault.

But he knows the truth: he is to blame
For the headstone engraved with his father’s name
He visits, he’s twenty, brings a girl
Part of the tour, the contours of his world

He tells the story and she starts to cry
They lie under a tree and soft summer sky
And he kisses her lips, her tears, the salt
And she whispers, “I love you. It wasn’t your fault.”

It wasn’t your fault

Ministers, mothers, lovers and shrinks
Covered with comfort, he continues to drink
Stands at the shore of original sin
Too dark, too far, he starts to swim

We cannot rescue this boy with our words
We need to be silent – he needs to be heard
Else all we give him is within his assault:
every stroke in rhythm “it wasn’t your fault”

We have to shut up as speaks from prison
I really fucked up!  Please just listen
And after that weight comes off my chest
Maybe I’ll find a way to get to the rest
I was careless, reckless, I disobeyed
If you would just get this I’d be OK
I made a mistake, consequences severe
I’ve no defense but I still belong here
I was a wild boy meant to transgress
I knew a wild joy and but I could not be less
And I could not have known the madness of fathers
But now I am grown and I have a daughter.”

A father unskilled dives to the blue
Willfully dies. It’s what fathers do.

Dennis Caraher, July 2016

One Comment

  • also seems somewhat inspired by that Wednesday prompt?
    No matter, took me on an internal “I identify” trip,
    – -Chad
    BTW: lass name is FU ller rather than MI ller as listed on yer “To” email list.
    again, no matter, U took me on another trip w/IT as well.

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