by Joshua H. Liberatore
Toes curl, scrapes of sand between rough reminders
of yesterday’s maiden swim: radiant pellucid sky displayed
vague sense of threatened calm – both wonder and fright to behold.
The rushing cool, immersion swift, warmer than one hoped
Fragrant suds of unknown depths enjoy a brief flash of fame
then gone, brought back down, folded in,
Only the tide spanks with the deafening certainty we covet.
A playground for fools and souls reborn, the coming bath beckons
like a savage call to arms that brings meaning to days of toil
and forbearance – all washes away in the brisk and beautiful throes
of aqueous battle and surprisingly tender strife.
Normalcy finds a brave revival in the comforting blanket of weightless pride,
its bliss uncovered in the quick shocks of this secular baptism:
thin fabric keeps things civil, but nothing hides the elemental joy
and dangerous euphoria of a good dip in the drink.
Through which the grown become young again, austerity receding
into the slick crystal plunge – ablution aside, or (perhaps) exacted.
Sheer will manifest in one dread purpose – to float, and paddle,
and glory in the benevolent support of buoyant embrace, unasked and unpaid,
but never unwarranted: a birthright of sorts.
Absorbent flesh retains its medium, tissue bloats and pinches
Vessels contract, a chill spills down arms – inviting us back to shore.
We go reluctantly, never without fear of what we leave behind
What we recover seems too secure, too easy, even trite.
Growing quiet, to each his thoughts, of returning tomorrow or next week
Persuading ourselves: just one of many likely immersions, but –
Nobody seems too sure. Regret and refreshment mix awkwardly
As oily skin and heavy eyelids shorn now of liquid support
find solace in adjustment, the perfunctory return to terra firma.
Only the sand clings with great tenacity to feet hesitant to be reshod,
shoulders catch against sun-warmed cotton, their moisture,
their innocent spoil, chafe gently at what cannot be rejected outright.
As if to make clear our bold error, the hot car infernal with reproach,
its violence restored. On the horizon, folding shines seem to wink
in deft conspiracy with those cloying grains of silicon – our betrayal made final.