from ‘The Little Mermaid Rewritten’


Waves make curved patterns of light
on the pool floor, like transparent scythes.
There is a palm tree painted on the wall
which my short-sighted eyes view as blurred
green. It is the Saturday evening lane swim
and only one other person does laps. Toys
from the previous parent-and-tot swim litter
the water. I bump into a beach ball
a small plastic boat. Kick a green pail
with my foot. A man in a blue bathing suit
comes towards me in my lane. Dives under me.
Watch his body pass. Toes last. I hang
onto the pool edge with my hands as he returns.
Nudges my chest gently with his head. As I wrap
my legs around the man’s waist a baby’s bottle
bobs in the water’s undulation.

– Eleonore Schönmaier, from Treading Fast Rivers (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1999)