--BEFORE YOU GO, CAN YOU READ MY MIND?
The Swimming Pool
We are stick figures now. Blunt matches. Raggedy Ann and Andy.
But nobody knows.
When the kids call, we marry our fictile voices. Find excuses for lack of laughter. Paint our days in Technicolor.
If one of them asks, we shade the edges. Haze meaning. Throw tarps over the residual debris.
If the other asks, we wrap ourselves in ropes of gleaming tinsel. Attach a bow. Say, “See? Everything is shiny here.”
This morning, I study the empty pool. Its moss and leaf-clogged drain. Corroded step ladder. Flaccid diving board.
A stench comes off it. So strong, that even the rats avoid it.
Through the barren trees, a diffident sun struggles to yawn. Reluctant to rise. As if it’s like us, and doesn’t want to face the truth.
A squirrel scurries by. Stops to pick up what looks like a spent Band-Aid. Flaps it at me. Flings it in the shallow end while chittering like a cartoon.
Upstairs you are putting on a bathing suit. Applying suntan lotion. Taking a towel from the rack, as oblivious as a broken mirror.
The wind swirls shawls of dust and pine needles when you show up. Older, but still beautiful. Still defiant.
You look my way. Smile. Curtsey. Smile. Smile.
You dip your toe in the deep end. Adjust your swim cap. Adjust your nose plugs. Take a huge breath.
I watch you float through the air. Diving in slow-motion. Arms outstretched. Palms pressed together. As if in prayer.
Seated on a lawn chair, I mimic your hands. Bow my head. Say, “Amen.” So be it.