Standing in my blue summer-stained one-piece.
Twelve years old, fellow campers’ goose-bumped bodies wait
to start the swim across lake Coniston,
rowboats and canoes ready in case we drown,
I plunge into the icy water, crawl away from the screaming
children on shore, relieved it is not their turn today –
The mile swim - final ritual of a Red Cross course.
My toes brush lake muck, seaweed, fishes,
shadowy spirits of unhappy campers forced to swim on rainy days,
shadows of early morning polar bear clubbers,
past wooden docks, knee scrapers, splinter makers,
concerned counselors in their tight white caps…
The tap-tapping of oars,
soft splash of other arms/ feet kicking
Out past the others, my strokes are strong,
To my surprise, I am alone.
Blue ripples, cloudless sky,
Silence smells of dragonflies.
At the center of the emerald lake
all is green-gold and shimmery.
I could just sink, no one would notice,
let my body exhale
beneath campers’ kicking feet;
free from swimming lessons,
from endless teasing,
from the pain of my budding breasts,
my parents’ divorce…