The grass was slippery with mud. In the distance I could see a rowboat tied to the dock. I looked out across the water. Must have been a good swimmer, took after his father, I thought with pride. My own father, who had great respect for nature, had dropped each of us into the river soon after we were born, before our ties to the amphibians, so he claimed, were cut completely. My sister Hanna blamed her lisp on the trauma of this memory. I’d like to think that I would have done it differently. I would have held my son in my arms. I would have told him, Once upon a time you were a fish. A fish? he’d have asked. That’s what I’m telling you, a fish. How do you know? Because I was also a fish. You, too? Sure. A long time ago. How long? Long. Anyway, being a fish, you used to know how to swim. I did? Sure. You were a great swimmer. A champion swimmer, you were. You loved the water. Why? What do you mean, why? Why did I love the water? Because it was your life! And as we talked, I would have let him go one finger at a time, until, without his realizing, he’d be floating without me.
And then I thought: Perhaps that is what it means to be a father — to teach your child to live without you. If so, no one was a greater father than I.