It's just poetry, it won't bite

The swimmer

06.21.16 Posted in today's words by

The swimmer
By Kendra Preston Leonard

She is the last one in the pool,
in the middle lane,
at night.

She swims laps
back and forth,
a current under
the moon,
in a purple
cap with daisies on either side of it,
covering a short
bob of white hair.

The last swimmer before her,
a tall and broad man,
has already swum,
his shaved head
coming out of the water like a seal,
black and shining,
and said goodnight.

From time to time,
the desk attendant turns
away from the big-screen television
(where an athlete is making an apology for something
he did or
did not
do) and watches her.

Her flip turns aren’t very elegant,
he thinks,
thinking of a man
who swam earlier in the day,
all litheness and lightness,
like an otter
and also
with white hair.

She is small and strong
but stretched thin,
like Bilbo before he gave up the Ring,
like a bird,
all tendons and gristly bits showing.

On the half-hour exactly,
she stops and begins to pull herself up
onto the side of the pool but,
rubbing her shoulder,
she walks through the water
to the stairs instead.

The desk attendant wonders
if it is the beginning or end of the day
for her.

Does she go out to work,
somewhere in the dark?
Does she go home, to bed, with cats or dogs or
wife or husband?

On her way out
she chirps Good night!
A bird, the attendant confirms to himself,
A short-plumed, swimming bird.

3 Responses to “The swimmer”

  1. I didn’t want this to stop.

  2. Kay Middleton says:


  3. Bobbie Troy says:

    Lovely visual.

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