Swimming in Walden

Swimming in Walden

(for Debbi)

Breaking the pane

of the pond’s sky-blue calm,

my hot body slaps

into the bookish water.

Its cool green depths

accepts me,

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,

you win.

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

drowning moths,

striving to take flight

even as their wings

flood with liquid light.


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