The Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living

MAY 4, 2012 2:14AM

Woman at the Pool

Rate: 53 Flag




Perhaps a sidelong glance

if that, you slide me 

past the inked and sparkling bodies, not even furtive


translucent and wet

hair swinging, snapping to and fro

in tandem

seal skin black and shining

your backpack with lone items

a comb, a towel



and I….


a slower lumber, steady

the routine

from  puddled changing room

locker with creams and potions

for this and that

invisible to even the counter at the counter 

and I remember a poem

and feel a stab in the knowing:


"Aging, but without knowledge of their age,

Kept safe here, knowing not of death, for death--

Oh, bars of my own body, open, open! "


the chlorine is a fog,  almost ether

silent starting blocks taunting above

sliding down in the deep warm

that gathers at my legs

closes over my scalp

a familiar peace in the muffled dark

and I am one with

the languid days of summer

long strokes across pools and ponds

arms remembering

head going down breath to breath

in sync

with a rhythm all of it's own command

much like the forgotten heart of a girl

crying open, open.




A  remembrance of a favorite poem of mine , long remembered but never truly understood till now. The gorgeous poem by Randall Jarrell

"Woman at the Washington Zoo"

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love this: "seal skin black and shining"

the whole piece has a dream-like pace and quality & i love that too.
Hey Jules, thanks so much. You were reading somewhere out there in the early morning, appreciated.
Kim amazing how the scents, the underwater sounds bring me back to one of the sleek ones I see across from me, all phases are good, isn't it?
Thanks Lorianne, this young girl tossed her black wet hair, and it just snapped like that, shining and all at once. Amazing how that ability somehow escapes me now.
Your intuitiveness is so accurate, I feel almost dream like swimming, in the fog, with little sound. Thanks for thinking I conveyed that.
wrapped in water, in a dream...being pulled deeper and toward something we don't understand but somehow remember...

It's always a deep dive here at your pool, rita.
I lingered and read it a few times. lorianne said it beautifully, I too felt a "dream-like pace & quality" with a mystical fog swirling throughout it. Well my body was what it needed to be, I haven't the desire or need to be young again.

"a familiar peace in the muffled dark
and I am one with"

Back in the now, beautiful in it's truth.
Swimming is so like entering a different dimension of being. you captured it well.
So many wonderful comments, I am really gratified it spoke to so many, I really didn't want anyone to think I was putting my poem up against hers, and no one alluded to that, in fact it appears so many feel this way about swimming, aging and poems.
I am checking in on my lunch break, after an insomniac type night so will be back later to converse with you all. many thanks!
One more note till later: I appreciate how all feel differently at different times in life about aging. I am more at the forgetting I am there stage but have found a true peace in the invisible quiet places.
Hi cc, invisible we are as we age, the world was ever created for the young. I am ok with that, I kind of like the invisible places it takes me. Thanks so much for commenting.
catch: great analogy there.. I like the deep end, that way you can dive in head first!
Hey Joanie, since I am grateful to have you grace my poems so much, that is meaningful, so glad you felt a kinship with this topic!
Z: glad to see you! TY
tg: how very true and how very well said, many thanks friend.
kenneth I appreciate your insight, hoping the poetry does invite people in. I find many feel it doesn't speak to them in general. Although OS is different.
Patience: true. all things in each season, thank you for coming by!
LL you must try it, it is a very freeing thing as you age, your body weightless, floating. Like meditation. TY
Thanks Con!
Brianna, pass the goggles!
Why Monkey, what a gracious thing to think, to say. There are some advantages to escaping attention, but thank you so much for the kind words, I take them to heart. Please write, I will read.
How heartening to come back home after the traffic, noise, sickness at work and see these thoughtful comments. I appreciate them so very much.
Spike: my morning poet friend, appreciate your thoughts, I always admire your writing.
Brass: wow. that would be cool. tres cool. TY Stevedos
Victoria: always glad to see you here, TY
Scarlett: thank God indeed, otherwise I would just be another miserable middle aged whiner, gratified you liked the lines.
Thanks Bleue, muffled darkness can be tranquil at times.
Tool Man: is one tool up good or lacking, either way good to see a macho guy like you on my poetry blog.. TY!
Boane: whatever collating is prolly not. However I save most of my poems now after deleting and regretting later. Thanks old friend for the visit.
asia it's been years since I have been in a pool. I prefer natural water, the ocean specifically but other than that, it's a good feeling, weightless under water. Or floating.
Heron I told Kim an idea I had for an awesome story and then it poofed into OS ethers and Kim and his loo story still got tons of rates. Mine will have to wait for another time. I am heartened you felt I captured the moments.
Aw Ferns, that's really sweet. Elegant is quite a word. Hope I don't let her down one of these late nights with my bad language :( over the Phillies or something. Thank her for me and thanks for reading Ferns.
Thank you Mary and Linnn, glad you came by to let me know you enjoyed it.
Yeah, you got it JT, except the last part (Fernsy's sister cover your ears) I don't give a damn about most of that now, the botox and cutting. See too many people who would just love to have some good moments left in their lives at work. But zen swimming, I like that very much and actually I sometimes chant when I swim or ride my trail bike. Softly, you can't hear it I swear. Thanks JT>
Sarah once is better than fine, happy as a real swimmer you relate.
James I thought you were a poet... your words always take me places. I like that mine caused a vibration, in that deep thoughts head of yours. I admit I have only read that one Jarrell poem, it was a community college Eng 101 that stuck with me. Thanks James Em.
Thank Youx3 LFJ I like your name. I picture out walking in the hay on this fine spring night.
John I always enjoy your visits and the kindness you spread here. Your sincerity is appreciated here.
Lea: more about you I didn't know. High praise for this gratified you read it and took the time to come by.
Tril: maybe many of us are doing the Zen swim, analogy for much.
L: thanks so much, appreciated.
hey FernsyFerns, late night I get a little r rated. The story involved a limo, a freak accident and partial nudity.
Thank you MCS my fellow poet. Appreciate your reading this.
Cindy, I am flattered you relate to mine more, and hearing the thoughts people are leaving here, this seems to have touched a lot of memories for us all. Thank you.
PP: since your first post, I have thoroughly enjoyed your very distinctive narrative voice. I appreciate the kind words.
JMAC I guess it's our time to learn to feel deeper and smile more! Thank you for coming by and reading.
I love your poem, and how you tied in a poem you love (and one I didn't know, so this post was a double-discovery!). You took me to the swimming pool, and beyond.
Thank you Alysa for reading I know I am not a writer per se so I love to tie in the people that inspire me.
Pee Dub: you know I love nicknaming folks that I am fond of take care my friend, glad you are among us again.
I like how you constructed this... I say that as someone who often pulls away quickly from this style and cadence...

for me, a form grotesquely pantomimed by the MFA bunch... still, four decades after Jarrell. Though shaving close in spots, still, you seem aware... of that, paying homage to the artist in him, by remembering and rekindling in new words, that moment of perception he captured... now you've caught it for awhile too.

And it will sit there safely, in your lines, until someone else does.

Saludos Poeta ~
ah... I think I should add, the beauty of your poem isn't merely as an homage, but also stands well on its own.

That you could easily remove the Jarrell quote, but you haven't...
II: not sure who MFA is? not being obtuse, I read this poem in community college Eng 101 or 102 and unfortunately it's all I know of the poet. I remembered the isolation feeling years later and it came to mind as I wrote this.
I did copy some of his set up but didn't count the lines or line breaks so I am not sure how much it mirrors the poem. As always I enjoy your commentary and insights. They reflect things I don't even notice in my own writing and that is so appreciated. Thank you for the thoughtful read, II.
This commenting business, so fraught with smoke and mirror...

rita, what I'm saying... trying too,

that you demonstrate your ability with integrity, beauty and skill... without (it would appear to me) other motivation than your own indomitable will... and that you are able to materialize these intensities of your perception, in a poetic language... a coherent semiotic, a conscious artform.

In my opinion, no other validation is required... What more evidence than that you would take a brief phrase to heart, years ago, an abstract poetic expression, seen through the filtered percept of another... nevertheless a material fragment of the substance that is language... and then hold it within for so long... incorporating it into the movement and evolution of your own life's travail... finally to bring it back from the rocky ledge, or the warm and grassy meadow, or wherever you kept it hidden... and place it where others might also see it.

Those are all beautiful pieces up there... that assemblage you've made... means a lot, anyway, how you made it
oh! Andrea, my wife, and I met at a pool in a hot sultry afternoon in the summer of '62 in Florence....hmmm....poetic memories...thanks
II: I didn't take your first comment in a bad way at all, just didn't get part of it correctly.
Thank you for the kindness you extend me, for the encouragement from one I admire and respect. You understand what I wrote and how it came about more than it seems possible from so far away.
I was embarrassed I didn't know more about the poet until now, I looked up his work and life after I wrote this. Appreciated II.
Hi Roberto, funny how smells and sounds, bring back so many memories.
Thank you for coming by friend.
Oh, Rita - perfect. "you know what I was, you see what I am, change me, change me!" - I almost put Jarrell's "Next Day" in last month's poetry mess - do you know it?

I know that "familiar peace in the muffled dark" - the quiet of the water, and the safe feeling of being held and still able to move.
Hey they C&V, nice to see you. I don't know it but I will check it out.
The change me line is a heartbreaker.
I enjoyed your poetry posts very much and take umbrage on your comment that it was a "mess".
You turned me on to some very good stuff.
I wish I could get the peaceful muffled darkness, like being held but able to move effect at home. There are ways, but they aren't good for you ultimately.
Hi anna ole friend of mine.
Where have you been?
Thank you always for reading, and thoughtful comments, any time you come is a good time.
Very hot here already, how about your weekend?
Evocative and sensual. Love the progression from the routine, invisibility, slow lumber to the peaceful immersion in the water, the languid days, long strokes, effortless rhythm. And yet that longing - so acute, visceral - feels like a strong hand has reached in and gripped my heart.

p.s. I could never see you as a "slow lumber", never.
James as you read my poems, you know I am sad just about everywhere, in the poems anyway. But no, not the supermarket, just trying to get the hell out since I hate shopping. Personally I like the poem by Ginsberg; A Supermarket in California. quiet clever and love to run into Walt pinching a tomato.
DIBI!!! hello hello there.
It certainly feels like a lumber but I love your loyalty.
Did you know if you google: goggle marks around eyes, there are thousands of other dorks who wonder how to not get rock raccoon like marks around their eyes from lap swimming? The internet rocks.
So then there is that.
Thank you for popping in and your eloquent thoughts on my poems, appreciated always. Hope Max is well.
Rita, I've had all-day goggle marks - they look like particularly bad bags! Especially hard to avoid after swimming here (137 m long, only open in the summer, you would love it);
wow. It's gorgeous, I have to google some more info.
Yes, that is why I was trying to figure it out, I spent an hour swimming laps and my eyes looked horrible from the goggles.
I ended up buying a small facemask type eye cover that extends to you cheekbook and rests there instead of under your eye directly.
Rocky raccoon is what I looked like Saturday...
James I am a silly person also, my favorite mood, but I write out of sadness for some reason.
Men help woman too. I just cant think of how right now. (joking).
Sometimes they love them just the right way, and that's enough.
Thanks James.
I have a feeling when you choose to James you do just fine on that front.
Thanks Maureen, good to see you!
Thanks Kathy~
James you are our town boy genius, no need to apply your seat is non negotiable.
Thanks Beth, glad to see you here.
nile: so nice that JD sent you and glad you enjoyed, welcome here.
Thank you Caroline, so nice to see you again. Thanks for reading.
Love you too James.
Revisiting this... I love how it looks , even - the "and I..." alone and apart.
c&v: love a revisit! thank you
Pranay: I would hope so, thank you for coming by.
Thank you Sparky for coming back to read and comment, humbled you took the time. Appreciated.