Pool Swimming

3 x 1 mile (200 warm-up + 8 x 200*)

*broken down into 50s: first 50 breathe every 3 strokes, 2 50 every 4 strokes, 3 50 every 5 strokes, 4 50 every 6 strokes

mile one

each swim starts
with ritual
push off, stay under
my nose almost touching

the white tiles
never breathing
until the blue tiles
then slowly surfacing

these blue tiles
span the floor’s edge
where deep water starts
and shallow water stops

swimming here
I think about
deep end childhood fears
of Jaws lurking ready

to pop out
of the pool drain
I hold my breath and
swim a little faster

Other kids
from the 80s
know what I mean. We
all watched too much cable.

swimming on
I reach the wall
and forget my fear.
I breathe, then flip, then glide.

my strokes swimming
strong and steadily
back to the beginning

mile two

I swim alone
but I am not
alone, others swim
beside me in the pool.

in quick flashes
I see bodies
awkward and graceful
catching pulling pushing

sometimes fast
but more often
unhurried and slow
crawling towards a tiled wall

Once I saw
a woman who
wore a bright blue suit
bobbing across the pool

up and down
she moved barely
propelling herself
from one wall to the next

I also saw
a man perched
on the slanted floor
of the pool’s deepest end

not swimming
only sitting
under the water
holding his breath, watching

I wondered
why was he there?
And how could he stay
underwater so long?

mile 3

at the pool
or in the pool
or one with the pool
immersed in cool water

I can see
abundant light
tiles mostly white but
blue too, marking the lanes

shadows dance
on the pool floor
cast by a few trees
right outside the window

I forget
what lap I’m on
and what worry I
have buried in my bones

it moves out
of my marrow
leaking from my skin
entering the water

if I am
lucky, swimming
will reshape it: no
longer worry but hope

or maybe
something other than
anxiety fear doubt

my body
warm from effort
will glow everywhere
from within and without