Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Joy of Swimming

Just read this quote on the ever-stimulating Brain Pickings blog(  “As you swim you are washed of all the excrescences of so-called civilization, which includes the incapacity to be happy under any circumstances.” (Anaïs Nin)  Man, I need to get back in the pool!

A poem will suffice till then:

Lane Swimming

The Victorians kept frogs in poolside tubs
as exemplars of sharp kicks and a certain poise
atop the water, and still at my local club
an amphibious gait’s the stroke of choice,
where swim-caps drift in lines like orange buoys,
except for one whose feet erupt with spray:
a Chinese student makes his way.

Backstrokers lead the non-conformist set,
along with one who wreathes her hair
in a Sainsbury’s bag to stop it getting wet.
Eyes cloistered in goggles feel safe to stare
at these, and at a shape emerging for air,
a tadpole wriggling, its tail newly splayed:
a Chinese student makes his way.

The fast lane brims and sways, a surface blanched
by bodies racing towards personal bests,
legs pedalling mechanically, arms arch,
shaping the water with a cut and press,
a crawl pattern from which few digress.
But there’s one pioneer who won’t obey:
a Chinese student makes his way.

And though I aspire to the heights
of these who haul their bodies along like freight, 
I’m often distracted by the sight
of him beneath the pool’s silken weight,
of him squeezing inside this other state,
reversing the miracle of his first day:
a Chinese student makes his way.

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