Swimming Laps

By Ken W Simpson

Flickering moments
of a tram ride
echoing voices
and blue water.

The smell of chlorine
while floating
as admiring teachers
and talked.

I remember
feeling self-conscious
and embarrassed
spluttering upright
as if defeated.

The sand
was scuffed and blotched
with detritus
dried seaweed
shells and jellyfish.

Curling wavelets
slid slowly
back and forth
towards the shallows
alive with tiny darting fish.

Translucent green blobs
and lacy filaments
delicately pale
hovered above
the sculpted sand.

I jumped
to avoid the breaking waves
at the shock
before plunging under.

One Saturday
Minh drove me
and Thuan-Nhu
to the local pool.

There was the same
smell of chlorine
I remembered so well.

The waves
were artificial
and the water
a synthetic blue.

I went
to the change-room
and undressed at a bench
with a hook
to hang my clothes.

Opening a heavy door
I sat
in the cloying
heat and humidity
of the steam-room.

Those above
lounged indolently
like emperors
sometimes creakily

An Asian lady
and unobtrusively sat
a bulging stomach.

In the silent swelter
an old man shuffled in
and sat
grim as sin
rearranging his neck.

as droplets of sweat
slid down my nose
and chest
I rose and left.

After a shower
I climbed down
to the spa
and sat
on curving bench.

The water erupted
as jets of air
created pale blue bubbles
flecked with silver.

bodies gleaming
as they dived
splashed and gyrated.

I watched
as impressive hunks
in the fast lanes
through the water.

Climbing down
I eased myself
into the water
and ducked under a rope
into the slow lane.

Despite the traffic
I began swimming
on my back.

Nine year old
Kha Nhu effortlessly swam
three laps
to Minh’s two
and my one.

Navigating blindly
I became aware of an Asian lady
swimming towards me
like a kamikaze.

I began kicking
as she surged closer
rising and falling.

she changed course
veered away
under the ropes
and disappeared.

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