To A Young Swimmer


Carol Wierzbicki

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 113 in 2007.

You could beat me in a race
if you weren't afraid to
come into the deep end.
It's disorienting at first,
the tortoiseshell patterns made by the light
on all sides,
not just the pool floor.

You slip weightless through the ether
but are tethered by fear.
I want to press on though
gravity's closing in.

See that stand of trees?
Beyond them lies the horror
of my adolescence.
I tried to drown my insecurities
in chlorinated silence,
hold my awkwardness under
till it turned blue.

I want to coax you out
but I see you are untroubled
by your limitations,
content to stay in the shallow end,
your loud pink sex toys bobbing
at the edge.

By the time I was your age
I was already swimming at all depths,
,pushed by a need
I am still trying to define.