After the Swim

A few dry olive leaves would frequently float on the water
Balanced at an angle in a pucker on the elastic surface
The bottom of the pool was a light green blue
made up of millions of tiles a centimeter wide

No one could see the bottom of the deep end
Even with bulbous thick glassed goggles
it was a deep, deep turquoise 
a solid curled stone instead of fluid

Thick white lines stretched into the turquoise with a sigh
surface and curves bending sinuously over each other
absorbent and velvet like, rippling with sheen
like the back of a large, smooth fish

Not like the sharp shapes of the Cheddar I ate
after the swim.
We used to toss smooth pebbles into the pool
and dive down to see who was fastest

in an endless, mindless cycle with a tunneling focus
seconds, rolling on, adding up
a slow voice measuring time calmly
and then emergence, and a quick roiling piercing of sound.

Never quite touching, those lines
muffled sounds from each other like crackling fabric
collecting into poison like her paints
while he sits there and stares.

One day a woman came to the edge of the pool
Clutching a thin purple robe to her neck, flapping about the legs
she took it off painfully exposing goosepimpled flesh
and stepped into the water gingerly

And there was a huge storm that night
the next day the pool was wild
when I dove in the water swirled around in my ears
And I felt four eyes sliding over my wet back

Avoiding eyes inside four walls with elongated lines
sitting for silent meals except for an insistent bark
They sat next to each other with a thick,
sticky tar accumulating in the space.

Floating on the water held up by a warm pressure
with slivers of wind like thin muslin
The sky never seemed wider or so big.

But less than a mile away
in a quiet house on an ivory day
the black tar slowly poured, and enveloped them
with a wet sound heard over several years
They waited for it, and stood still and pristine,
frozen, but with still warm breaths.

You all were so kind about my last poem that I got very excited and wrote another one. I know, am I rushing into things? Is this too soon? No one can tell, I’ll have to talk to my therapist about it. The image I have used here was created by the french illustrator, Belhoula Amir.


Anyway, this poem is about many things, as poems are wont to be, and among other things (my parents’¬†relationship), it is obviously about a pool. I used to go swimming in a big, outdoor swimming pool when I was a kid, and it had these mosaic like thick tiles all around it and curving into it. They were a cloudy celadon and would occasionally pop out, which is when my friends and I would use them for our diving game described above. The deep end was 19 feet deep, and I once dove into it the wrong way from the highest diving board and landed flat on my stomach with a big clap. I floated underwater for a few moments, stunned by the impact and the violent smarting on my stomach before managing to somehow paddle to the side, where I clung to the edge and floated gasping, dazed. I think the lifeguard at the pool was not very good, he mostly just used to lounge around and show middle-aged women how to move their arms and legs in a breast stroke. The ground around the pool was covered with brown, terracotta like tiles which were rough with a sandpaper like texture and grew darker when water fell on them. They would always be warm, even when it was cloudy, they would somehow soak up whatever heat they could and give off a lazy warmth. The feeling of them after getting out of the water is the most earthy feeling I have ever experienced.



The cottage was long, settled in the grass with a pleasant grunt
Everything fit
The whole world compressed
And gently shaped
We spent a summer there
My room was mint green
with rocks everywhere
And a mirror in a green frame
encrusted with cheap, faded rhinestones.

My bed was near the window
with copper rocks on the white sill
dull hay lines running through their sides
And the ceiling sloped down towards the other night

The living room was downstairs
with big windows looking out to glowing tin roof sea
The kitchen cupboards were full of labelled jars
We loved cinnamon so much the whole cottage smelt of it
No one could decide if the smell was sweet or savoury

We weighed everything down with sun warmed rocks
That's what rocks are for.
Books, paper, plates, doors,
and folded up clothes.

The books in the house were all unknown
thrillers and love stories and Reader's Digests
and I remember I mocked them
We wrote things on the beach with sticks and rocks
they wrote 'happy birthday' in the sand

And I wrote on paper 'promise me don't cry'

After noon when it began to get dark
he would get jittery for food
stomach cramping sweat breaking
We would all twist our wrists

Faster & faster & faster & faster
till the clicks were not clicks
And I cut sandwiches, white and clean,
horseradish paste - strangely pink
And crispy leaf

But we never ate in the dining room
A long room with a long oak table
shiny and dark and polished
With a filigree turquoise lamp hanging overhead.

She lay next to the dull, glowing lights of the car
green grass and grey tarmac in pale yellow light
And breathed in the smoke & smiled
her hands stopped roving
As if caught momentarily on pale string

The steps were so small that only my feet fit
We ate Italian sausage 
and buzzing, static rocket
with juice running down our chins

The sun fell again in golden olive lines
inside an amber dome
through tall leafy trees and their rust shade
And we went about our business,
sneakers crunching on purple gravel.

We sat near the window & flies
flew in
and couldn't fly out
And we swatted them for being lost.

I haven’t posted anything new in a while, but this is a fairly long poem I wrote this morning. I’ve been developing it for a few weeks now, and the idea first came to me when I was on a train on a very sunny day.

This was the result of spending a few days in a cottage that we rented somewhere in New York a few years ago, so of course the sea mentioned above


isn’t really a sea, it’s lake Erie. I remember that the cottage was both fresh and musty, and my feelings for it ranged from an overwhelming infatuation to a vague disquiet. The atmosphere of the holiday was electric, to say the least, and the ruralness of the setting was not something everyone was necessarily used to. The quiet was nebulous and threatening, unfamiliar American countryside.

I think I take so long to post things because I am very reluctant about my writing, I don’t think much of it is good, and I struggle to come up with things that I feel will be worthy of sharing with people. That has never happened, I think, and when I do post I post in a quick haze of writerly occasions when I type things right onto the blank screen and click post. And then I think ‘oh God, this is really not very good.’ But I leave it there.