Swimming in Walden
Breaking the pane
of the pond’s sky-blue calm,
my hot body slaps
into the bookish water.
Its cool green depths
as though it silently knows
I am one of Thoreau’s own.
Cat-burglars, we snuck in the back way –
the car-park full, cop car
predatory, lights glinting
a cobra ready to pounce.
The Park Warden thrust a Xeroxed
map in our hand – suggested we
tried other attractions less numinous.
But our rebel hearts were set.
Fifteen years on, I wasn’t going to miss
it again. Who knows if and when
I’ll be passing through next?
So we slipped in a likely backlane,
asked a local directions,
and hiked in, through delicious tree shadow,
pungent pine, fern and mulch.
The path is long and the hour is late.
On Logan’s runway the plane will not wait.
I see the asphalt face at the security gate.
But the train’s hobo harmonica
guides us on
to the blue cove, ice house north,
where we find bathers, picnickers,
families and lovers.
An arcadian idyll bookended by
a simple cabin, a green dream,
and ripples beyond a writer’s reckoning.
An elderly hiker says: some times when you cross the line,
The day’s mercury, ninety high and rising,
so we strip off and plunge in.
Feet flounder on silt bed,
as toes learn the water’s tread.
Laughter lifting like a startled flock
as we wallow in delight.
A few lazy strokes, but
it’s easier to float, to glimpse a
duck’s eye view of things.
A spry old swimmer reaches the shore,
adjusts his goggles,
then turns to cross
where none can fathom.
Watch this kettle never boil.
Each butterfly stroke
makes his hands
striving to take flight
even as their wings
flood with liquid light.