2 miles and 20 laps

in a warm place… well, warmer than home,
where, on the shortest day, we understand
it’s doing a fine imitation of winter—
the kind of winter we get, which is to say,
cold and dreary and gray, cold enough
for snow but sea-level elevation to prevent it.

So that fleeing for a time to the southland
of my native state feels like a holiday,
appropriately on the third day of Hanukkah,
heading toward Christmas and Kwanzaa
and a new year, December miracles
in a place where I can comfortably don
lightweight summer pants that reach
my calves and tennies with tiny socks that
barely reach my ankles,

and in only a T-shirt and sunglasses and hat
walk and walk through a mid-century modern
neighborhood, taking in low-slung houses
with butterfly roofs and angled turquoise
mailboxes like the one my father attached
to a 4×4 for my mother in the mid-’60s
after they moved north and set down new
roots by a lake called Folsom.

I am from this latitude, or close enough,
born about 100 miles west near an ocean,
but I’ve spent most of my life inland,
missing the sea. Perhaps that’s one reason
water has long called me—from the lake
out the front door and down the path
in my youth to a high school pool in my teens,
to a tropical ocean as an adult—any warm,
swimmable, snorkel-able, easy water.

I like easy, the ease of, after the walk
under the palms, admiring the San Jacinto
mountains to the west, slipping into
a suit that hugs me like an old friend,
then into the warmth of a champagne
cork-shaped pool for solo laps,
rolling over on the back to float,
look up at the bluest sky, smiling,
grateful for all that holds me.

Ocotillo Lodge pool, Palm Springs (Photo / Dick Schmidt)

About janishaag

Writer, writing teacher, editor
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