“The Pool” by Jacob K. Robinson

Jacob K. Robinson


Oh, right. About the boy from the sky
He fell, unexpectedly, feet first into the pool
Which is a silly thing to think
A boy with enough composure, while falling from a great height, to direct his feet earthward
I suppose it could mean he intended to land
To bend his knees on arrival
To cushion the impact
But could it also mean he was trying to create as little splash as possible?
To pencil his body through the earth, like water
To show his skill at making no waves, causing no tumult, no hubbub, no trauma
Maybe he was competing in a diving contest
Between four other boys and himself
And he simply wanted to win.
The other boys had competed finely
There were flips and jackknifes and a cannonball just to stir the pot
They had no judge but themselves, each other
A scale of zero to ten, though no one would give a zero
That would simply be too cruel
And a ten was out of the question
A score only given to the impossible, the unattainable
A target to aim for, knowing they could never hit it.
With each dive they had raised the stakes
They had upped the ante, so to speak
This didn’t imply that the following dive need be better
Just that it had to be more, different, else
The thinking was that one must never step back, regress, devalue the competition
One must always add add add
Lift the competition to new heights
And in so doing, lift each other
It was really about encouragement, was it not?
It was really about making each other better, stronger, more capable
It was really about tough love and hard won battle scars
It was really about elevation.
From way up in the sky, the pool looked like a target, an eye
It had lost its kidney bean shape
And morphed into a simple dot
A little crystalline blue pupil with an off-white iris made of concrete and pebbles
Surrounding that, a green green green sclera
That was the wide open land of rural Texas
That was the cow pastures and hay fields
Hay fields in the off season, wild grass spurting up from the untilled dirt
There was a house next to the eye, a long ranch home
One could imagine it as a nose but that was upsetting
Then one might expect there to be another eye, bookending the bridge of the nose-house
But there wasn’t.
There isn’t.
There couldn’t be.
And it would be a sad thing to think about a missing eye, a semi-lost vision
So the nose-house does not exist, it disappears from view at this height
Not by actuality but by actualization
This was not an eye of a pair of eyes
This was a kind of cyclops, a singular point from which the Up Above is viewed
The Up Above in which a boy could be seen
Falling, feet first, toward the target-eye.
The other boys continued their competition
The highest score to be achieved thus far, an 8
Which is to say, they were nearing the end.
The dive that had achieved the 8 was a half back flip twist maneuver
Hard to render completely, but that is the description the attempting boy used
A sort of half back flip twist, then, head first, arms in front, straight down like a needle
And he did it
He pierced the water with hardly a ripple, comparatively anyhow
In fact, the only reason he did not merit a 9 was that he had not made the full twist
His entry was achieved at—roughly—a 350-degree position from how he began
Which was with his back to the other boys
So, given the parameters of the dive he described, he should have entered the water facing away again
And he nearly did
But not quite
Thus, the 8.
From below, the feet of the boy from the sky looked like an equal sign
Spread just slightly apart, the smallest of gaps between them
He had considered keeping them pressed tight to one another
Ankle to ankle, as it were
But that had proved to be uncomfortable to hold
And he would be holding it for some time
So instead he opted for the more sustainable: slightly apart.
There was something to this strange stance he had positioned himself in
This kind of gentle at-ease
Say one was flying in an airplane and looked out the window and saw the boy
He would look like he was standing on air
What a sight.
The diving boys did not know about the boy from the sky until he was there
They knew him, of course
He was a friend of theirs
Or an acquaintance maybe
But they didn’t know that word then
So they used friend
They didn’t know he was taking part in their little competition
They didn’t know how badly he wanted to win
They didn’t know how long he had been planning this dive
All they knew was that he was suddenly there
Feet first
Into their pool.
The water, that blue pupil, spilled out onto the iris of off-white concrete and pebble
All of it
The pupil space that remained became the color of bleached bone, empty
Its blue trickled away away away
Over the concrete and pebble
toward the green green green sclera
And then it seeped down into it
And was gone
The boy from the sky was the new vision
The diving boys were seeing.
Cracks began
To form
In the pupil
As if the boy from the sky
Kept wanting
To go down
It was aging
Everything was aging
At a pace
Drying out
The green green green
Is now brown brown brown
And the nose-house that never was
Is being sold
The memories contained in the pupil waters
Now somewhere else
Scattered on impact
The pool
Will be demolished
Filled in
And maybe become a garden
Or a garage
The four diving boys
Will eventually forget the boy from the sky
Or no
Not forget
Simply not remember
Not every day anyway
But occasionally they will recall
The dive that was an 8
They will laugh about how close it was to a 9
Oh right.

from Rattle #82, Winter 2023
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist


Jacob K. Robinson: “At the end of the day, I think I’d like to be summed up like so: I am Texan by birth, a Georgian by blood, and a New Yorker by choice. I like a good pair of Levi’s, mowing the lawn, and playoff baseball. I am doing my best.” (web)

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