"I measure out my days in imagined arguments ..." 


Ms. Sitkin

Lisa Sitkin

Confessions of a Surly Swimmer

When asked if I get bored swimming back and forth,
I say, No -- the repetition frees me.
I can float into my grandmother's pool,
glide back to the afternoon I danced for hours
with my lover without touching, then we touched,
and imagine that the water is his caress.

In truth, I spend much of my time in the water worrying
that someone will try to share my lane.

There are days I measure out my laps in imagined arguments,
threading the waterline with self-righteous quips
about a slower swimmer's failure to give way,
a faster one's refusal to obey the sign
clearly marked Medium.

And when the skinny man with a monster
tattooed across his chest appears in his thong bathingsuit,
I compose outraged speeches and letters of complaint
to the management, kicking hard and out of rhythm
each time I glimpse his pale buttocks
through the wavering blue water.

I wonder how it might feel to love him
in the way of mermaids, with a generous
flick of my silver tail, and a promise
of voluptuous drowning on my lips.