Saturday, August 28, 2010

Morning Swim by Maxine Kumin

Morning Swim by Maxine Kumin

Into my empty head there come
a cotton beach, a dock wherefrom

I set out, oily and nude
through mist, in chilly solitude.

There was no line, no roof or floor
to tell the water from the air.

Night fog thick as terry cloth
closed me in its fuzzy growth.

I hung my bathrobe on two pegs.
I took the lake between my legs.

Invaded and invader, I
went overhand on that flat sky.

Fish twitched beneath me, quick and tame.
In their green zone they sang my name

and in the rhythm of the swim
I hummed a two-four-time slow hymn.

I hummed "Abide With Me." The beat
rose in the fine thrash of my feet,

rose in the bubbles I put out
slantwise, trailing through my mouth.

My bones drank water; water fell
through all my doors. I was the well

that fed the lake that met my sea
in which I sang "Abide With Me."

Selected Poems, 1960-1990

"Swimmer's Mourn"(by Robert Ortiz)

into an icy lake, i shamble
  after Maxine Kumin.
i enter her watertight realm,
  invader; supposing
fish fly from me and scream my name
  to herald my coming,
and then school away, in cool
  shade, to spread their lumen.

do i go where i cannot stay?—
  once in, my limbs frozen,
i wade back to the soggy shore
  and stand idle, drying
in the unnatural heat of March;
  i sweat for the biting—
premature hordes of mosquitoes
  come feast upon my skin.

once more i breach the icy lake,
  and there would dip my head
to see more sprightly fishes flee
  and dance along the bed;
before i can, the icy tease
  burns till my limbs glow red,
and so, frustrated, i withdraw
  to bugs who'd eat me dead.

i could quit, now, this sordid trip,
  and with my broken branch,
hobble left, right back up the hill,
  through the woods to my shack—
counting the ants along my path—
  then in my journal, scratch
'my happiest whens, in this lonely fens…"
  take a nap, eat a snack,
then play, in cool mild shadow wild,
  a masturbating act.

but as i wade through soggy rot,
  to my stone drying spot,
to heat and mosquito frenzy—
  my spirit's epode glee—
where my brave limbs thaw out once more,
  my loins recharge their core.
my body, frozen to be baked,
  and mind, begging the ache,
convinces me—both whisper their whim;
"M-brace the harrows, and Swim."

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