Readings in Contemporary Poetry

August Kleinzahler


(for Brighde)

The japonica and laurels tremble
as the wind picks up
out the west-facing wall of the old natatorium,
made wholly of glass.
The swimmer takes her laps,
steady and sure through a blur of turquoise
and importunings of chlorine.
The large room itself now darkens,
lit as it is by natural light,
as the storm clouds press closer toward land.

Back and forth, the solitary swimmer,
now on her second mile,
is caught up, held almost,
in that one element she finds her ease;
and in moving through it
the very edges of her strength are engaged,
until, on a turn, her breathing stretched,
health pours into her.

The great glass wall, first pilloried by drops,
their dull, pellet-like clack,
is now streaming with rain:
and from this hill, 
where, half-hidden, the old rec center sits,
across the sixty rolling blocks to the sea,
all that is material and solid,
the houses, the cars, the trees, 
diminish into shadow
and continue to recede till there is nothing,
nothing at all in the world,
but water.

copyright 2003