Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Pool of Youth

In the warm evenings of August,
the high school pool was full.
Up to forty people crowed the lanes,
swimming laps to stay fit.
Through the cooling evenings of September,
the sun began to set earlier.
Some swimmers dropped off;
a few new ones appeared.
Though the floodlights were turned on in October,
they only magnified the stars
and the half-moon swimming
across the night sky.
In the cold November evenings,
rains began to fall.
Thunder and lighting sometimes
chased us from the pool.
“You’ll love swimming in the rain,”
Doug told me. He was right.
There is nothing quite like swimming
in a warm pool with cool rain drops
playing on your back and your face
as you turn to take in a breath.
By December, there were only seven of us,
each swimming in his own lane.
The steams rose in tendrils,
as if they were extensions
of the ripples on the surface of the pool.
We each occupied our own world,
walled in by the luminous fog,
only occasionally glimpsing a neighbor
passing in the next lane.
Ike, the man who had swum in the lane
next to mine all semester, told me
more of his story.
“I was born here in Clovis,” he said.
“There were only two thousand people then--
now it’s eighty thousand.
I fought the Japanese in the Burma Theater,”
said the robust, eighty-five year-old Japanese American,
whom I’d mistakenly thought to be about sixty.
“I’ve been swimming for two years,”
said Doug, my other neighbor.
He looks like an Olympic swimmer.
“I’d been injured in a motorcycle accident
and couldn’t workout any other way.”
“Steve, Ike, and the coach have been swimming
since the beginning,” Noah, another neighbor, told me.
Steve is a triathelic in his forties.
No one knows how old
the coach, Roycelyn, is.
She could be any age
between twenty and thirty-five.
“We’ve been doing this for twenty years,”
she told me the first day I joined them.

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