i swam this morning
in a public pool
it was a big pool
50 meters long

they have lap swim

the water was cold
not as cold 
as some mornings
in iowa
(do i remember a thin sheet of ice?)

anyway, sky is grey
and thick with clouds;
supposed to storm later…

i swam aau
for the steelers
all those years ago
we wore green
polyester sweatsuits
with a white stripe
running down the leg
our mothers
sewed on patches
we collected across the state
and we swam
lap after lap after lap after lap
after lap

today i swim lengths
and take time
on the wall
to take breaths
SO out of shape
unless you count round

toward 7
they begin to drift in
the kids
wearing deck sandals
baggy shorts
and their big red and black back packs
slung over their shoulders

they lay out in groups
on the lounges and chairs
a few are curled up with towels
some stretch their arms and legs
a couple of the older ones
grab the flags 
and put them up
over each end of the pool

the loudspeaker crackles
a young woman’s voice

i grab a chair and bear witness
to the changing of the lifeguards
they signal, bow, and turn their heads to sweep the gutter
it is full on ritual
and sacred

the kids migrate to the far end
shake their arms and legs
crane their necks

music comes over the loudspeaker
ozzy osbourne — crazy train

i am transported 35 years
to holiday pool
west des moines iowa
sun hardly over the horizon
we were so young
so young
the churn of water
the unmistakable smell of chlorine
probably the same song

i’m going off the rails on a crazy train…

i watch now
as the kids 
get in the pool
with their goggles
and red TOPS caps
their kick is pure
flutter, not lazy scissor 
they are all flip turns
and smooth steady strokes
i see a girl in the middle lane
take a few strokes of butterfly
i was a butterflyer
because one morning
suzanne figenshaw
was in the pool
before anyone else
and she swam butterfly
rising and diving
into the calm flat water before her
save the criss cross splash of her arms
she was a dolphin
with wings
oh, that’s how you do it

i am almost 50 years old
with a wife, kids, and a mortgage
and a job
my body is fat, slow
muscles sore, stiff
i wonder sometimes 
how much time
i have left
and if i’m using it wisely
these kids — i’m jealous
not because of the easy way they stretch and reach
but for all the time which stretches so far beyond their reach
although if i’m being honest
also the way they stretch and reach

anyway, gotta get home
kids have camp
and there’s things to do

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