Our swim shorts clung to our skin,
& we fought with the polyester, trying
to loosen its grip, but we failed every
time. The creek water dripped from

us, as we smiled at each other & contemplated
jumping back in. The air that morning was sweet;
I tried to remember its sweetness, but my
mother kept telling me to be careful & drink

plenty of water. She had filled up a huge bottle.
Be careful, her sweet voice lilted. We jumped
from the tall tree, from the large branch
that extended over the creek—was this

the closest we could get to dying?
I’m sure that this was not what my mother
envisioned when she said be careful, as the
shorter, thinner limbs wipped & cut into our

skin—leaving red marks & scars & bruises.
Mud spots splattered up & down our legs.
The heat was sweltering. Over & over we jumped
from that branch. Over & over my mother’s voice

played in my ear. Be careful. Over & over.
Be careful. Over & over. We were just
a group of boys—all we knew how to do
was play games. Jumping was never a risk.

Be careful. Over & over. We forgot towels,
so we just had to lay in the grass, letting
some of the blades stick to our legs & feet
as the sun dried us & we resisted the temptation

to jump back in. Be careful. Over & over.
Her voice was there the first time we smoked
pot. Be careful. Over & over. Drank beer. Over &
over. Shots. Be careful. Over & over. Made love

to a girl in the backseat of my dad’s
pick-up. Over & over. Be careful. Over & over.
We were just a group of boys, jumping into
the creek on the summer solstice.