Sunday, September 1, 2013

Swimming Lessons

My suit was blue, or maybe red with tiny pink polka dots

and a string around my neck I couldn’t tie alone.

Who can remember such things? I do remember

clutching the orange Styrofoam kickboard

for dear life, paddling my feet with twice the vigor

necessary to move forward in water, nothing

like the mermaid I wanted to be. Week

four of swimming lessons at the YMCA,

my classmates, evil, spoiled doctors’ kids,

sat on the pool’s edge, laughing at whatever

it is third-graders laugh at: rules, each other, poor girls

exerting too much energy to move 12 feet, my failure

to graduate from using a floatation device. Water

beyond the bath was foreign to me.

They all had in-ground pools and parents

who could swim, fathers who held them

horizontal while they went through the motions

until they could survive alone.

I could only concentrate all my attention

on not going under.
--April Salzano