We continue with our feature of Joel M. Toledo in this week’s Poetry Friday, hosted by Robyn Hood Black. Choosing a poem from Joel M. Toledo’s poetry is a difficult task. One wonders which one is a better poem, only to realize that such a comparison cannot be made. So, I then must decide on the basis of what speaks to me more and hopefully speaks to other readers. I have a love for water, the sea, and the ocean. I find it even more wonderful when it becomes a metaphor for a whole poem. When I first saw the title, I first thought of David Forest Wallace’s short story, Forever Overhead. I imagine the poem to talk about struggling in the water, only to discover it was more than that. The first line alone “Keeping to your sea…” told me this wasn’t really about Learning to Swim in the literal sense.
This poem is taken from Joel M. Toledo’s poetry collection, Chiaroscuro.Learning to Swim Keeping to your sea is like holding water, cupping one terrible wave after another, all troubled by a memory of depth and of your face, glinting in sunlight, moonlight, in every awkward moment that catches one staring. Now I know its madness to wade through your water and not drown. you are everything about the sea that pulls things down I sit rock-heavy in the sand. What is the color of water? It is that of loss, that which slips through your fingers, the shoreline, its final sentence.