This morning, walking almost naked
from the change room toward the outdoor heated pool,
I become that man again, unsettling
shape to be explained.
Such questions aren’t asked to my face. Children
don’t mean anything by it, supposedly, so I
shouldn’t feel as I do,
as my bones crouch into an old shame I thought
I’d left behind. Chlorine prickling
my nostrils, a stranger
compliments me on my tattoos and shows me hers –
a dove in flight over a green peace sign –
as if the canvas was unremarkable.
She turns and limps away,
and something makes a moment of sense.
I lower myself into our element
and swim, naturally
asymmetrical and buoyant. Quite some time
later, showering, the man beside me
is keen to chat – how many laps we’ve each done,
how long I’ve lived in this town, the deep
need for movement.
Speaking, our bodies become solid.
The Change Room
4 May 2016