Oct/Nov 2020 Poetry Special Feature

The Swimming Pool Dried Up Last Night

by Jenifer Joseph

The Swimming Pool Dried Up Last Night

Philly, Temple U. and the YMCA
all join one another at the bar—
except the bar is see-through
and there is everywhere left
to plummet.

On my way to the CVS
the pool I walk past
and judging by the lack of water
I think they mean it this time.

I'm staring down
the head of an MG42—
but it's a dream
so it's okay— I will soon awaken
at 4:30 in the morning to my Citizen app
and the news that 4 people 1 mile from me
got shot up at a basketball court
and 2 kids are dead already—
I don't check
but they're kids—and it's time
to wake up now.

Since then I keep having a dream
where blue wisps lead me down a silvery grotto
and back to that empty swimming pool
only now the water is quietly rising
and the sirens sing glassy jazz
along the edge of the tourmaline tiles.
It's an oasis so impossibly free
and I swim and swim and swim
without ever having to leave.

Now that swimming pool
is a square hole in the ground—
an act of sublimation—
of instant and vengeful heat—
and the sirens are no longer women
but rather hunter's bells—
a dynamite din along the ear canal
of a desperate city—
clinging to the tyrant edge of a pool—
doing everything not
to fall.

The sign says NO DIVING—
but the singe of a machine gun
compels me to accept any opportunity
to plunge. And I do what I can
to drink the water—
but only ash is left
in this square hole of a Philly graveyard.

I don't dive, I never get the chance
before waking up.
Yet I wouldn't blame anyone
for believing in swimming pools
at a time like this.


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