Thursday, July 12, 2007

Swimming Lessons






Swimming Lessons

Last night, I felt the memory
of a gentle undertow
push me-pull me
until I fell asleep. Yesterday,
I swam in the topaz sea
remembering you, clutching me.
I arched my back, floated
on the surface like a cork
allowing the currents to guide me
while I watched a motionless
cloud streaked sky. Ripple
waves carried me, rise
and fall, rise and fall, and stained
my skin with salt. I began

to count the waves, like you taught me
knowing every seventh was the big one
On the seventh, the break line
crashed over my head, and
I tumbled, topsy-turvy
and breathless, until the water
subsided. Your hands never left
my hands and I watched,
salt stinging my open eyes
as ocean debris (kelp, shells,
bottle caps, rocks and wrappers)
ricocheted around me. I learned
this moment was inevitable
and temporary, so I waited it out.

Inside,I am still
that little girl
whose hands you held
in the choppy gray Pacific,
while we counted. My tiny feet
are still planted in soupy sand.
I am still counting waves
laughing and shrieking in joy
(and fear) as you and the ocean
lifted me. You tried to teach me
to respect the wide gray water, know
that it could change
smooth or rough, depending on the weather.

You served me well:
I am you buoyant
and watchful daughter, wiser
in the ways that everything
can change as it lifts me.

13 Comments:

AscenderRisesAbove said...

lovly photos; can feel the cool water and sand between the toes. one of my daughters is teaching swimming lessons so it made the poem and image special to me

gautami tripathy said...

This created beautiful images in the mind. Narrative is very good.

Great pictures..:D

pepektheassassin said...

Oh, so nice...and so nice and COOL!

tumblewords said...

You wrote the feeling and appreciation of the teacher, so well. Wonderful!

Constance said...

What a lovely poem. :) The image of the parent really comes through.

Hedwyg said...

Absolutely lovely! I was hooked by the feeling of undertow while lying in bed - I've felt that very sensation before. It's funny what we think we're the only one to experience, and how it so often turns to be shared, if not universal.

Thank you!
Hedwyg

...deb said...

Lovely poem. I especially liked the first line "Last night, I felt the memory". Setting me up by "feeling" the memory--it was kinetic and not emotional for me anyway--was a strong move and perfect here.

J A Dunham said...

This is beautiful writing. I love the photos as well. From the land of 10,000 lakes?

Clare said...

Really lovely! I could totally feel the rise and fall of the waves and the wonderful sensation of floating. Your imagery is so beautiful and I especially loved the lines "remembering you, clutching me" and "a motionless cloud streaked sky" and "everything can change as it lifts me." Wonderful poem. Great photos, too!
:)

Rob Kistner said...

Excellent! I enjoyed this piece… ;)

Michelle said...

Great poem. The rhythm evokes the waves and the imagery is really on. Reminded me of my own swimming as a child but in the Gulf of Mexico. My always on editor noted the "you - your" typo in the last stanza. But it didn't detract from the trip down memory lane. Thanks!

Donetta said...

Spiritually beautiful in the transparency past the surface.

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