I do not let my mother's warnings,
curfews or the dead - those beautiful boys
drowned earlier in the summer
(drugs, a dare failed, cracked skull,
broken neck) when the Lake
was high and cold - stop me.
Floating in the black, I imagine
their bodies - never recovered -
rising beneath me, pressing my hips
level with the surface of the water;
my navel, nipples, eyes and lips
mimicking the constellations
above me. In ripples
and waves I hear them whisper
my name and feel their tongues,
strong from gulping great mouthfuls
of water, licking my neck,
shoulders, the soles of my feet.
Kris Johnson is a poet, teacher and researcher from Seattle, Washington. She has recently completed a PhD at Newcastle University which explores the ways contemporary Western American literature engages with the philosophical tenets and principles of Deep Ecology.
Her work has been highly commended in the RSPB/Rialto Nature Poetry competition, and appears in anthologies and journals including Halleluiah for 50ft Women (Bloodaxe), Poetry London, Poem, The Lifeboat and Butcher's Dog.
She says "More than describing a teenage rite of passage, in Skinny Dip I wanted to evoke a sense of what it means to live in the American West, surrounded by a landscape that is as beautiful as it is dangerous."
Follow the link for a list of other Poems of the Month.
Skinny Dip © 2016 Kris Johnson: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.