Of The Body part 1
“I wrote this a few years ago. Recently edited it AGAIN with the help of Lauren Hartney, who will soon be contributing to this blog. Ola Hadi recently made a post of a poem titled “pitch black bitch”, check it out.”
Of The Body part 1
He knew that going to the public pool was dangerous, especially since he was alone; there would be no one watching his back. Walking across the park lawn he could see the pool ahead. It was packed. As he neared the fence surrounding the pool he could hear the thrashing of water, the screams of kids and the yelling of lifeguards and other adults. It didn’t sound like fun. For a moment he thought it might be best to go home, but it was hot as Hell there. Shit, it was hot as Hell everywhere. The pool at least had the possibility of relief. Walking alongside the fence the noise was a roar of water and screams. Closing his eyes the images came in a rush, bodies boiling in a pot, pleas for mercy denied as more were thrown in. A bus-long spoon dipped in slowly pushing people down in the bubbling broth, yeah that’s what it was, soup, people mired in soup. Up the length of the spoon there was a gigantic hand holding and now stirring the spoon, then he saw it. Attached to the hand was an equally large forearm but the rest of the arm was small, ridiculously small, as was the rest of him. It was himself that he saw, almost comic with that impossibly large hand.
“Hey are you going in or what?” the attendant yelled.
A hand in his back shoving him forward gave the answer. Walking slowly on, others hurried by, through the dank locker room then the constantly showering showers.
One of the smaller kids running by slowed looking back at him, “You don’t want to hang out in here too long, get outside, at least there some one will see.”
That was no shit; something was up with the locker room. It was the reason the pool was shut down last summer – two dead, one missing. Most blamed gangs but the kids knew otherwise. The dead, sure, gang or drugs, but the missing? The word was that the attendant could be caught giving someone a long look while stroking himself behind the counter. So the rule was, no shower and get in and out of the locker room quick.
“Does not play well with others,” that’s what the teacher wrote on his report card. “No, not a bully, he just seems disinterested in his classmates,” the teacher explained to his mom, “it might not affect his grades but I’m worried about his developing social skills.”
He stood looking out at the crowded pool, a twisting mass of arms heads feet legs and water that sounded like some torture gone wrong, with a laugh tossed in here and there. Developing social skills, who here was developing social skills? One of his classmates called out motioning for him to follow, running towards the pool at full speed, leaping gathering knees to chest, soaring and dropping. A cannonball. Water jumped at the entry. He could do better than that, flinging the towel away gathering speed. In the air, arms clenching his legs tightly, confident of a mighty splash. He hit the water with a thud. Gasping for air he sank into the water, pain blinding him. Taking in water, pain inside and out, then his knees hit the bottom. Air, thank God for air, warm over- chlorinated over-urinated water ran from his mouth and nose. Coughing hurt. Looking with watery vision, who had he hit?
Just below the surface the body moved in rhythm with the water, the head with its own beat, tugging, the neck resisting what it no longer controlled. He reached out. No reaction. Is he faking? Is he dead!? Oh shit! Oh shit! The pain in his side replaced by the pounding in his chest. He reached out. Water surged then splashed, parting him from the body, pushing him back up off of his feet. The silence broke, his chest hurt. Oh shit! Oh shit!
The lifeguard’s whistle barely cleared the din, but it was already too late for him.
“Hey man, your brother!”
“I saw him, it was that little prick right there.”
Oh shit, oh shit! Move, he thought, try and explain. Fuck that, move. Oh shit, oh shit!
“You’re done motherfucker,” hand around his throat.
There would be no explaining.
The lifeguards made the water, moving in on the body, but the life saving wasn’t needed there.
The whole world was water bubbles knees feet shins, and one hand. Tight, so tight he couldn’t drown. Nothing would pass this grip, not water, not air, not sound, not light. Light. There was so much light.
©Ted Washington 2009