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Sean Lause

Learning to Swim in Lake Erie


Everyone is having fun but me.
I can’t understand it.
Perhaps this sun is too bright for thought,
or the amusement park rides all round us
are flooding the air with screams and laughter
so that all my questions are drowned.

My young wife is teaching me how to swim.
She dives and resurfaces lie a seal,
a spindrift of pure joy, her sky mousseline.
I kick and thrash and gasp and flail behind,
the horizoned blue an army of shields,
all those glitterwaves careless of death.

Seagulls call and cry their exile,
cast like heretics to the mindless winds.
This great lake I am trying so hard to enter
is ringed in rollercoasters, torn tickets,
cotton candy hearts and desperate laughter.
She is calling to me in words I cannot hear.

My life has been mostly undertow.
I cannot touch or feel her secret world.
She waves and laughs, gives herself to blue.
I wave back like an overboard landlubber.
She points at something in the blinding distance.
Is it me in a lost incarnation?

What heart am I, to fear her daring depths?
A dead fish floats by, one eye searching for God.
I owe her at least a stroke or two, and more.
So what if we’re lost in the funhouse,
with nothing but mirrors to guide us?
I might be better drowned but I swim on.

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