Aug 11, 2008

So, the Olympics are happening. I’m more of a Winter Games gal myself,
but I do have a weird fascination with the swim competitions. It’s
such a pure, classic sport — no playbooks, no fancy equipment, just
the athlete and the water. (Although that appears to be changing with
this year’s space-age-swimsuit brouhaha.)

Anyway, this Maxine Kumin poem puts an interesting spin on the humble
lap pool. It feels a little heavy-handed to me (“Matters of dogma”?)
but I’ll leave any deeper analysis to y’all. Any swimmers in the
group?

Citius, altius, fortius,
–Jonelle


TO SWIM, TO BELIEVE
(Centre College, Danville, Kentucky)

The beautiful excess of Jesus on the waters
is with me now in the Boles Natatorium.
This bud of me exults, giving witness:

these flippers that rose up to be arms.
These strings drawn to be fingers.
Legs plumped to make my useful fork.

Each time I tear this seam to enter,
all that I carry is taken from me,
shucked in the dive.

Lovers, children, even words go under.
Matters of dogma spin off in the freestyle
earning that mid-pool spurt, like faith.

Where have I come from? Where am I going?
What do I translate, gliding back and forth
erasing my own stitch marks in this lane?

Christ on the lake was not thinking
where the next heel-toe went.
God did him a dangerous favor

whereas Peter, the thinker, sank.

The secret is in the relenting,
the partnership. I let my body work

accepting the dangerous favor
from this king-size pool of waters.
Together I am supplicant. I am bride.

-1975

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