A. Van Jordan


I would like to swim in the Atlantic,
to swim with someone who understood
why my fear of drowning plays less dire

than my fear of bones, walking the ocean floor.
I would like to sync my stroke with a beloved.
I’d like to stand on deck on a boat

and jump in the sea and say, follow me,
and know you would. The sea is cold
and it’s deep, too, I’d joke,

standing at the edge of the boat’s bow.
A wind breathes across the sea,
joining gently the edges of time.

With a dog paddling behind me,
I want to crawl across the water
without thinking about a future.

I have set my eyes upon the shore
and I hold you there—steady, in focus—
but let you go when, from below,

a voice breaks to the surface.


A. Van Jordan is the author of four books of poems: The Cineaste (W.W. Norton, 2013), Quantum Lyrics (W.W. Norton, 2007), M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A (listed as one of the Best Books of 2005 by The London Times, W.W. Norton, 2004), and Rise (winner of the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award, Tia Chucha Press, 2001). He is the recipient of the Lannan Literary Award, a United States Artists Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and a Whiting Writers Award. Jordan earned an MA from Howard University and lived in Washington, DC from 1998 to 2002. He is the Henry Rutgers Presidential Professor at Rutgers University - Newark. To read more of his work: Two Poems, It's Your Mug Anniversary Issue, Vol. 10:2, Spring 2009.