Saturday, May 27, 2017

Two recent poems

Two recent poems' First one was begun last fall as just some notes. I stumbled across it and decided to reshape it as a poem--the experience of swimming in colder water than I'm used to... maybe others have experienced this?

Cold Swim

Frio, froid, fuar, kold

We’ll think of others, or translate them.

How it burns, goes silent,

a fact, five o’clock. Action News. Weather.

And you swim, water wrapping you in itself,

you the ice cube, the water someone’s drink, but whose?

Step in, tentative.

It gets darker earlier.

The water wears a poker face.

No going back, or is there? Not if you care

about saving face, your own

looking out over the river, appealing for what,

mercy? You take the next best thing,

a swim. The stroke evens.

Face in and out, rhythmic,

water surrounding you, chill eating into you, no

longer a monster;

instead, a cat licking the salt from your sweaty skin.

You begin to fly.

It’s just water. 


The following poem I wrote during a weekend that included my father's birthday (April 28), my first time in the Penn Relays (thanks to my friend Kristine Longshore who needed someone to fill a 4x100 and a 4x400 team. No, Nike is not pounding on my door waiting to sign me up (nice fantasy, though). I am quite slow, but I have a pulse, and that proved to be enough. 

Day after that was swim practice, but sometimes athletic events blend together in significance.

Then my aunt's birthday was April 30 (102!) and she still enjoys the New York Rangers hockey team.. Finally, I'll leave the bobcat to your imagination, although there's a non-fiction basis for that too.


It was his birthday.
There was cake at the bar.

Pistol shot set batons into motion.
Would I know what to do?

The medal was a gift. He had one like it
antique, bristling with tradition.

From below, bubbles surfaced,
friends in a pub, glasses raised. Everyone wore yellow.

Next morning, unheard, I dove in
to my thoughts and swam freestyle

Under water, silence.
Startled, I forgot how to start.

His body shouted
Push off the wall! In his voice, focus.

It was her birthday, over a hundred. In a jacket of many colors, she waited.
Rangers would play soon.

A bobcat’s cry woke them. Nothing but forest
for miles. We found our way out of time.

Diane McManus