Once afloat, pulling the water in familiar strokes,
you will forget about what it took to get here:
the annual oh-my-god-how-round-you’ve-gotten
work of donning the suit, stunned at the cleavage
you would have died for as a flat-chested teen
on the synchronized swimming team, horrified by
wobbles of flesh on upper arms and legs.
Then reminding yourself that’s one reason
you swim at 9 on summer nights—no one else
in or around the pool—and you stop the
useless recriminations. Remind yourself that
this body is, after all, a garage for your soul,
and your job is to love it no matter what, till
death do you part, and to put it in the water,
dammit. You always feel better when you swim.
Because the pool, after being closed for three
months to an unseen virus, is at last open,
and you have learned that you must take
advantage of every opportunity to swim
your 20 laps. Numbers are on the rise.
It could close again. Soon.
Because swimming, for you, is seasonal,
means summer, means four months, if you’re lucky,
in this outdoor pool in your watery routine
of various strokes, sculls and eggbeaters
under a Delta breeze, should it arrive, or on
the sultriest nights when droplets dry
on your face in seconds.
You take the four steps into the water
for the first time in this rollercoaster year,
this upside-down, how-could-this-happen year.
It’s warm, as it should be after the thermometer
hit the century mark today. Yet the water
always looks ice blue in the diffuse light.
You jog in place, acclimating, before you adjust
your goggles, lower your shoulders and
feel yourself lift off, finally weightless,
at home in the old motions, pulling for
the other side.