The Drowning

We spent summers in swimsuits,
brown-backed with white strips of flesh
a sunless crossing on our skin.
At the public pool
you always had to stay in the shallow end,
bright orange band around your wrist,
marking you a drowner.

You said I was brave,
swimming over my head,
though you were the one
who slipped by unnoticed,
hand hidden as you walked to the deep end
and dove in
like youíd never been afraid.

How did we look from the other side of water?
Rippled, hollowed, soundlessly calling your name.
When you didnít come up for air,
the lifeguard pulled you out,
bent down to lips purple as chilled plums,
breathed life back
until you coughed and rolled your head to get sick.
First kiss at eleven.

After that you disappeared,
skipping school,
getting into strange boys' cars
and driving down to the river,
still drawn to unswimmable waters.

Years later, filtered through rain,
I think I see a woman with your face;
cold-water skin, tangles of dripping hair.
I want to catch my fingers in it.
I want to take her wrist,
tie orange tape around the fine-knit sinkable bones,
indicate your danger.

But she isnít you,
youíve been lost to me
since that summer
I watched a body pulled out of the pool
and the girl stayed on the bottom.

Shannon Woron completed her undergrad in English Literature and Creative Writing at UBC in 2004. Her writing has appeared in Room of Oneís Own and Asian Pacific Post. She is currently working on a novel and will be going to St. Petersburg this summer to study with the Summer Literary Seminars. (shannonworon@hotmail.com)

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