When I learned to really swim

Thank you, stranger lady swimming in the next lane.

I was paddling along, trying to last
two strokes, or three
on a breath,
Wearing myself out,
clumsy
panting.

I watched you for a while,
you were not splashing, not
swimming terribly fast.
But skimming along
and breathing every
four strokes.

I thought,

“My singer’s lungs should be able to
hold a note for four measures,
and have a little left at the end.”

And that is when I really learned to swim,
to feel
the oxygen in my veins
the strong blood in my heart
rhythmic flutter of feet
percussion of hands
and the notes the bubbles sing
as I swim my song.

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