It is 1974 and out the institutional open windows 
of the college dorm, nylon bikinis in floral prints 
are plummeting like the cheap bodies of birds. And then

your mother's large white briefs like a mainsail, like 
a flag of surrender, begin a slow dancing down current, 
cinematic, lithe. All of the faces
are turning up, hushed, like those
holding a hoop to save a child burning. It is the opposite

of being lifted into the sky
the way I imagined my grandfather ascending 
after the long pain of illness: this large pair of underpants 
falling forever on the startled face
of an undergraduate boy.

For Paula Snow

From Why the Ships Are She by Terri Ford. Copyright © 2001 by Terri Ford. Reprinted by permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.