For Dale Trinka, YMCA
Boys twice my age tossed me into the deep end.
I was five. The sunlit chop flashed blue and gold
as I sank, gulped water, struggled up and sank again.
Somehow I reached the gutter, pulled myself up
into their laughter. I wondered why nobody cared.
Deep in my brain, the little amygdala wondered, too.
In my early middle age someone taught me to float:
Lie back, he said. Relax, keep your butt up.
No matter how deep the water is, you’ll be okay.
And I became a fanatic, a born-again swimmer,
learning all the strokes, doing laps every day,
even holidays if I could find an open pool,
until I kicked that, too, and finally floated free.