Linda Gregerson

(August 5, 1950 / Illinois)

With Emma at the Ladies-Only Swimming Pond on Hampstead Heath

Poem by Linda Gregerson

In payment for those mornings at the mirror while,
at her
expense, I'd started my late learning in Applied

French Braids, for all
the mornings afterward of Hush
and Just stand still,

to make some small amends for every reg-
ed bathtime and short-shrifted goodnight kiss,

I did as I was told for once,
gave up
my map, let Emma lead us through the woods

"by instinct," as the drunkard knew
the natural
prince. We had no towels, we had

no "bathing costumes," as the children's novels
call them here, and I
am summer's dullest hand at un-

premeditated moves. But when
the coppice of sheltering boxwood
disclosed its path and posted

rules, our wonted bows to seemliness seemed
poor excuse.
The ladies in their lumpy variety lay

on their public half-acre of lawn,
the water
lay in dappled shade, while Emma

in her underwear and I
in an ill-
fitting borrowed suit availed us of

the breast stroke and a modified
She's eight now. She will rather

die than do this in a year or two
and lobbies,
even as we swim, to be allowed to cut

her hair. I do, dear girl, I will
give up
this honey-colored metric of augmented

thirds, but not (shall we climb
on the raft
for a while?) not yet.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, July 6, 2018