Melancholy Hyperbole

Poetry about longing.

the same water twice

last summer
I swam late each afternoon
just before dark,
the town pool pimpled with chills
and I the sole swimmer,

alone with the shadow
of richard dreyfuss,
who swam stroke for stroke beside me
singing besame mucho while
our feet kicked wet tangos.

the boasts of the bored life-
guards filtered away to besame
when I surface-dove to bluer altitudes
(and there admitted to richard
that I still hadn’t seen jaws).

last summer I once came early
and had to share the pool,
repeatedly swim wide of
a ten-year-old practicing the crawl
in the net of her father’s arms

while in Queens
my own father, sinking from one
white hospital bed to the next,
faded to bluer altitudes.

I drove through the chlorine,
eyes wet with salt, certain
that for us such days were done,
he could no longer be my buoy,
wondering if in a year I’d enter
the pool fatherless.

last summer when it didn’t rain
the afternoons were cold for swimming.
I learned to swim between shadows,
aim for the lanes on which the late
sun still fell and warmed the water.

this summer when I swim
I can’t hear besame
and richard stands white
at the poolside
refusing to dive in.
Sandi Leibowitz is a school librarian, classical singer and writer, mostly of speculative poetry and fiction whose works appear in places like Liminality, Mythic Delirium and Stone Telling. A native New Yorker, she’s flown over the Rio Grande in a hot-air balloon, followed the trail of medieval pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela and visited Arthur in Avalon.

Categories: Poetry

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