|Oct/Nov 2015 Poetry Special Feature|
Image courtesy of NASA and the University of Arizona
My Mother Swimming Laps
My mother brings me to the pool at my Grammy's
condo on her summer days off from being a nurse.
The old lobby, brown brick and humid and filled with
potted plants, smells very clean except near the front
desk, which smells like a bowling alley. The mean lady
always sitting there does not like me, loves rules, and
while decades younger seems older than Grammy,
who the mean lady calls by her real name: Marge.
My mother leads me through the empty women's
changing room and puts on her suit behind a wall.
I arrived wearing mine, and goggles on my head
though I'm still too afraid to go underwater. We exit
to the pool, which seems dangerous and immense,
and Grammy, who wears a gold magnifying glass
at her chest like a pendant, is already sitting off to
the side, her floral shirt cast blue and shimmering.
My mother swims back and forth and back unceasing,
summoning shadows to flicker up the walls and
wood beams of the ceiling. I happily doggie-paddle.
Grammy though blind stands watch, her head tilted,
listening to the Cubs on a gray transistor, saying a rosary
probably for me but maybe for them, and the sounds—
the whispered prayers, my mother's splashing, the
damn Cubs—resemble nothing so much as: shhhh.
My mother finishes, I don't know, maybe sixty laps
and, rubbing her eyes like I've seen my sister do, dries
me off in my Garfield towel, drops unused goggles into
her bag of domestics, brushes wet hair from her face,
and laughs about something with Grammy, whom she calls
Margie. She leaves a trail of wet footsteps behind her.
When she buys me a Milky Way from the machine
in the freezing hallway, her eyes are still stained red.