At the City Pool

The signs insist on showers first.

You must glisten in the lifeguard's gaze,

wet tracks add verisimilitude,

and your trail, like a raccoon's, ends at water.

 

Some faces aren't meant for goggles,

Kafka's for instance.

You fuss with the strap and every fourth stroke breathe

and each stroke is a thought, twenty thoughts per lap.

 

Consider the elbow as fulcrum.

Allow webs to sprout between your toes.

All loops being endless and water being water,

it is a good time to remember every other time.

 

Water, said D .H. Lawrence, is hydrogen and oxygen

and a third thing mysterious

but in a city pool full of kids, fourth and fifth things too

not even counting the chlorine.

 

Wear your flip-flops in the shower.

Dress in front of the mirror and slick your hair back

like the Tarzan who dives from the falls

to kill a crocodile that threatens Jane and Boy,

 

and when the man who looks 80

even with slicked hair

says wasn't it great in the parking lot,

you smile back as if he looks 65,

 

you smile as if keeping all his secrets safe,

as he would do for you. Sharing --

that's what swimming buddies do--

lanes, lockers, fungi, knowledge

of different strokes for different folks,

of where the other sags, how the other floats.

 

Daniel Becker