My hands glide through the inky black, the water like velvet as I look underneath the surface at skin that is 5 shades darker. I let the big girl swim ahead, thinking about the women who have dipped in this same lake and the legacy my daughter has inherited on a small slice of treasured-to-us land. A long sisterhood, mother to daughter, mother to daughter, mother to daughter, mother to daughter.

She swims ahead, determined to make it to the next property. And the next. “Mommy, can we swim to the Jewish flag?” I smile when I think about how my grandfather, freshly dead, would feel about the trifecta of flags on the Silverberg property. Israeli next to Scottish, the flag of the land limply hanging on the dock off to the side. She sputters through, inching her way against the current and wind to achieve her goal. She gets out of the water triumphantly and runs to tell anyone in earshot about her big swim.

I am alone in the inky black.

I go under. I am my mother with her c-section scars and crumbling marriage.

I go under. I am my grandmother with a scar on her breast.

I go under. I am my great-grandmother forging new with the burden of the old.

In the velvety water, my hands feel the weight and the dreams and the thoughts in the solitude of the women who were in this lake before me. I am privately renewed, ritually connected. The big girl’s splash pierces the lake’s mirrored surface, and she is at once all of us. The best parts of the mother, the grandmother, the great-grandmother. I imagine the great-great-grandmother who she is named for evaluating her entry into our club.

I go under. I am my daughter, carefree and floating.

The inky black velvet is our legacy. Murky and mirroring, surface and underneath, carefree and painful.

I go under. I am myself. Everyone and everything that came before and will come after.


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