Saturday, November 29, 2008

Poem: Swimming Lesson

Swimming Lesson

Like shiny well fed seals, two squealing boys
fought, over nothing, arm thrashing against
gold arm, spending their health extravagantly.
One dunked the other, held him down, arms tensed.

Their swimming coach, a man in his late fifties,
rose up beside them, water sluicing down
his sedimental torso. When he yelled
for them to stop and rapped one on the crown,

the rebel stuck out his tongue like a finger,
the other dived and slapped his own backside.
The coach threatened to tell their dads—they laughed—
and not continue teaching them, he lied.

They’d not have mocked him in those sunstreaked days
spent crawling long, interminable laps
under the watchful eye of champion trainers;
those breathless mornings when the colored caps

are stretched so taut they seemed ready to leap
off the block; the gunshots. He shook his head.
Squinting into the sun, he saw the glare
of light, the air, and something, somewhere, dead.


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