What I think About When I'm Swimming

Hannah Lowe

The thick, muscular legs of men
I do not know.
The water is my friend. It holds us all.
Is it beautiful
to watch me swim? Like the paddlewheel
of an old steam boat I go.
The time I couldn't swim, sunlight blanking out
the children's faces where I surfaced,
flailing in a riot of rubber rings and screams.
Now I cannot drown,
I keep the steady course,
I only hear the water babble in my ear,
the fizz of bubbles from the man in front
who sprints with the ego of a fish,
new to these parts.
It is boring to watch me swim.
What is beautiful are the tiles
with their century of rust,
the pool spread like a sunken ballroom,
marbled with the winter sun and here,
the deep end's edge
where I hang breathless,
wet and warm and sad
and the warehouse roofs rise up
beyond the glass,
like a painting of another land.

Hannah Lowe

Hannah Lowe was born in Ilford, Essex in 1976. She has lived in Brighton and California and now lives in London. The Rialto published her pamphlet The Hitcher in 2011 and her first collection Chick was published by Bloodaxe in January this year. A short chapbook R x is forthcoming and she is currently writing a prose memoir and second collection entitled Chan as part of her PhD in Creative Writing. She worked as an English teacher in a London Sixth Form for many years.

The poem "What I think About When I'm Swimming" is part of a short sequence about swimming in Chick.

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What I think About When I'm Swimming © 2013 Hannah Lowe: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.