In the viewing balcony with
other parents: looking down
as through Larkin’s high windows.
Eight 7-year-olds lined at the side
happy chatting and aquafidgeting.
Water shudders at their chests.
They hold their floats like prayerbooks.
One by one swim-teacher sends them
over the shimmering chasm of one width,
sometimes laying on her hands
guiding the less assured. Backstroke.
One cascades her limbs
like cilia in a waterdrop. Another
like he’s having conniptions:
threshes an angled way.
Swim-teacher supports another’s back
with her left hand, her right forefinger
on the tiny chin to keep the head back
like pressing the invisible button
that activates the limbs’ pistons.
Her T-shirt, over her black onepiece,
reads swim, large lowercase,
and underneath TEACHER, small caps:
this difference in fonts--
maybe to stress the importance of
the line separating above from below:
the echoing air of splash and shriek
from the severe depths, where eels of light
tangle themselves about the lane lines
like ghost snakes about Asclepius’ staff.