Swimming as a Metaphor for Life

The water is mirror calm and a deep summer green. Streaked with pencils running thin lines that slide past me as I edge forward. I glide, fast from the first stroke. I only think about rhythm. Rhythm and breath as I stress and strain to keep pace with myself and make warm. The water uncannily cool for August.

I do not look where I go but I notice the receding figures over my left shoulder, so when the shore to my right comes closer into view I am not surprised. It is then I decide on my route. So I slide along the side of the pond until I reach Sandy Point, then turn abruptly to swim across the belly of Walden. Her deepest bulge below into the earth’s crust.

It comes on me insipidly. Creeping unnoticed. The gentle wash of insistent wind water. Turns to thumping into my cap covered skull. And the more insistent the thumping the more I rise above it until I am a goddess figure head forging forward in the swell. The thunderous crashing of wood on wave below.

I think about my daughter in hospital all summer who seems to be letting go. Not of life. Of spirit. Taking refuge in the too too muchness of the suffering. I think of the strength it takes from her to stand. How earlier, I held her arm and supported her back and watched her emaciated legs buckle, her bare head bowed. “Jesi, you have to look forward,” I said, seeing the failure of strength. And then watching how she raised her head on its long slender neck and almost feeling her heave, the weight of her on me lessen and her legs straighten to stand.

I think of this and I heave my own body out of the wind water swell thrashing my skull. And raise myself up like a sea goddess to fly.


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