Swimming Lessons reprinted with kind permission of Deanna Young and the Arc Poetry Society Ottawa Canada
by Deanna Young
Our children are bottom-feeders feeling for a puck
in the deep end. Floridian in fuchsia suits they surface
fish-eyed in goggles gasp and snort blue water.
We sit on the sidelines barefoot tapping
chlorinated puddles. Pass comments back and forth
like cards. In my mind we are pressing
the soles of our feet together. I never get my wish.
The lesson is always over before I drag you to the deck
cup one hand under your chin pinch your nose
and breathe myself into your lungs. Our children appear
in garish towels unrelated though clearly
the same species: purple around the gills hair sleek
as sealskin. Whatever happens they will all know how
to swim. It is our job to see that nothing does happen.
In the parking lot after balmy showers blowfish
bobbing around us in parkas mouths steaming
you stretch and mention how you spent the week
knocking down a concrete wall. With your head?
I wonder out loud. And later what it takes to get through.
——————————————————————————– 3rd Prize Poem of the Year Contest 2003 Arc 51 Winter 2003