• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 04
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Not swimming, drowning

An early memory, the municipal swimming baths.

Grandma said, everyone can swim,
so I ran, raced, leaped into the smooth,
silky softness of the deep water.

I remember silver ripple-lights on the surface,
silver not blue, the smack,
and I felt the water wrap its arms
around me, pulling me down, feet threshing,

legs not mine threshing,
bubbles, a mass of chiming bubbles
and the gag of chlorine.

An older girl pulled me out,
left a child-fish gasping on the side,
mouth gaping, spewing water,
and the silver ripples winked innocently.

She has no face in my memory, just a shape,
lithe, a dark costume but I remember
the water’s eyes, unrepentant.

They had death in them, callous
as black leather trenchcoats
with winking ripples at the lapels,

and I have never forgotten.