Swimming

Here’s another great poem written by one of my workshop participants. Don’t forget the deadline for submitting to our anthology is July 20th. You can find out more information here.

A Sense of Time Passing
by Patsy Collins
inspired by Plaques, 1939 and 1963, Engraved and enamelled metal, former Victoria Swimming Baths in Portsmouth

Coconutty suntan lotion applied hit and miss
and candyfloss sweet lipsalve kisses
splash over the chlorine and Germoline for scraped shins.
Ice cream drips off chins
It’s not quite washed away as they pass this way
and plan the salads for the diets they’ll follow
tomorrow.

Soaring up, echoing about are the shouts and squeals of children
released for summer. Rushing, in
ready to swim, they don’t hear the fainter waves.
Those made by grandfathers, great grandfathers.
‘We’ll be back soon,’ the promises as they were swept to war.
Many meant. Not so many kept.
Too many unknowingly lied
and died.

The water grew cold back then. Flavoured with sorrow and tears.
A metallic tang from the guns and the bombs and
bullets and shells. Hopes were melted and
park railings smelted for medals as thanks.
And tanks.

But the sun shines now on the young and carefree.
Fears and fighting are in the past.
At last the children race, length after length.
They have health and strength and a future.
They laugh and call and have a ball. It’s noisy this peace.
It buoys them up, like chlorined water. Keeps them safe.
As they scrape their shins and steal kisses and away from class,
taking a chance. Living the lives they’ve been given.
Living.