Written in Arlington

During the month of April 2020, Arlington Poet Laureate Emerita Katherine E. Young is posting poems from the forthcoming anthology Written in Arlington, which showcases the poets and poems of Arlington, Virginia.

The Pool Poem
by Ceanne Rennie 

The water rushes through me
cleaning out my eyes and ears
like the cotton swabs my mother 
used to carry in her purse.
My pores are open when I surface,
the air burns my nostrils and
fills my head like
the steam from a steamer.
It makes me sweat onion peels,
especially after that first dip
in the water.
The chemical washes the
grime from my fingernails
and overpowers me.
As if this
is all there is
to life,
nothing else to recognize, 
except that the line for food is getting shorter 
and I can rely on my long legs to get me there 
before the family of five does. 

The pool is a communal bath.
This time of year you should call it a hot tub
or a boiling pot.
Sidewalks serve as stoves and you can smell the 
hot dogs and hamburgers.
When people walk by you can hear the sizzle
and pop of them cooking,
of the grease slithering down,
down to the brown pavement and
into the pot. 

A congregation of
people young and old.
Small children run and scream and
bob and weave through the lifeguard’s tower,
over the golden rainbow of tanned bodies 
and down the WonderSlide.
Seniors swim and swish in the shallow end,
smiles facing forward and arms brushing the clouds, 
all of them dressed in purple waists
riding on orange
snakes on
the journey of a lifetime. 

I wear the same things as they do,
but no doubt I look like a boiled egg 
with the way the sun shines on me,
and the way I struggle in six feet.

Bubbles broil off the hair 
from a big beefy back
and it smells like barbecue.

The pool is 
a tool for renewal.
First we 
cleanse the water,
then we
cleanse ourselves.
Fill the craters in your mind with 
ice cream and applesauce.
With the radio turned up high you can 
drown out your sorrows
and try something new.

People of different flavors 
bring their spices with them. 
They all blend so perfectly.
So we mix and we bake
and we sing and we laugh,
knowing that even when we leave
and the pool is drained,
the smell of our potluck will follow us home
and tuck us into bed tonight.

My tongue cradles the memory 
of every plate between each taste bud.
I can still taste it
when I smell smoke 
from a back yard.

Ceanne Rennie is a member of Wakefield High School’s Poetry Club. Inspiration for “The Pool Poem” stemmed from memories she has of birthday parties at public pools and family cookouts. She enjoys swimming and finds it meditative. 

Written in Arlington / Spoken in Arlington is a print and digital collection of the poets and poems of Arlington, VA, edited by Katherine E. Young and published by Paycock Press (forthcoming, fall 2020). It is supported in part by Arlington County through the Arlington Cultural Affairs division of Arlington Economic Development and the Arlington Commission for the Arts. For more information, visit Arlington Arts.

Image: After the Rain mixed media/collage on canvas by Anya Getter (fragment)

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