Cold wet toes hug the sandpaper edge
of the Tall Diving Board, a most terrible ledge
But the plastic and rusted beams buckle and creak
Along with your knees-- they are feeling quite weak.
Everything's swaying, the pool and the sky
Your hands both are shaking and you wonder why
You thought you could jump. It all seems so silly
You thought you were brave, but up here, you know really
You're just like they said you would be.
You lift you foot trying to face off this dread
right over the edge of the board, but instead
of stepping off, you move backwards. And then
your other foot follows it downwards again.
Inching back, and hanging your head from the shame,
your feet grip the grooves on the steps just the same
as the last time you thought you were brave.
Then you freeze, and you frown. All the kids gathered on the ground
could not stop you with mocking from coming back down
But your mom, shouting out from the shade of the sides
speaks to you louder than fear or than pride
"You can do it, I know!" and you manage a frown
and a stubborn resolve not to walk to the ground
but to swim! And you struggle back up to the top
the gritty board scraping, the phrase "belly flop!"
taunting you from the children below; and your brow
is furrowed, your teeth clench--the moment is now!
A sniffle, slight stumble, the bending of knees,
You know you can show them--don't belly flop, please!
and you push, one last time-- any time you could stop
at the edge once again, at the diving board top
But you don't!
And it's over.
A splash is your prize
your ears ring, your nose stings,
But you jumped off the diving board.
And now you can do it again.