The Swim Lesson

by Christine Adams Beckett

The left ventricle of the organ 

Echoes the tremendous truth 

That I am sure to die.  It

Thumps an overwhelming rhythm

Of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

In an ominous D Minor

Frighteningly foreshadowing my own demise.


Cardiovascular paths threaten to burst 

From stress and shock, 

The wall of water before

My outreached freckled fingers

Marks life’s border and

Promises to steal the last breath of my  

Five year-old lips.


I hear no splash, but the flow of 

Powerful blood to my extremities,

Now flailing above me, below me

Grasping at amniotic fluid 

That has no place in my mature lungs.


Bubbles amongst the algae green

Interrupt rays of sunshine that

bleed into the curly leaf lake weeds hiding

Chlorophyll, welcoming life-sustaining light,

Strengthening its stems that 

Grab and pull my sunburned feet.  


Hydrogen and oxygen

Atoms that pass my burning throat

Make me crave the surface like

My adult body will crave a lover,

Food after a fast, 

Drink following drought.


The right ventricle returns with a kettle

Drum in half notes.  Violins whine

A hopeful response as my head reaches

Summer air.  I gasp the wind and

Let out an exaltation, a rebirth of

Non-aquatic mammal to

Full fledged swimmer.  I sing an Ode to Joy and

Clumsily tread the blue green water 

Declaring “You millions I embrace you!

The kiss is for all the world!”