Saturday, August 11, 2012

Three Views of Eden in August

1. Not Quite There Yet

You haven't sat here in a month.
You never sat exactly here.
You used to sit not far from here
Psyching yourself up for each swim
In the startlingly cold water
That rose to where your knees dangle
Over a two-meter drop now.
Back then you were prepared to lose

Yourself, everything, all at once,
Or were being warned to prepare
By the examining doctor
Who was thinking of sending you
Straight to an ICU. Instead,
Your white-cell count came back normal
And you were only sent for tests
And IV antibiotics.

You weren't getting back in the lake
Anytime soon, not with that wound,
The little scratch that ate your leg.
"Glad it went this way," said the nurse
Giving your all-clear yesterday.
"It could have gone a whole lot worse."
So here you are, afraid to go in
To the place where you feel at home.

2. Dogsbodies

Seven of us on the beach--
The triathlete and her kayak,
The snow-haired hippy couple
In their sixties with their dog,
Two teenaged girls lying out
And me, all scars and crutches,
Under inscrutable sun.

The girls smoke pot and gossip,
The triathlete prepares
Her kayak just so, then goes
In a blur of rhythmic strokes
Far across the shining lake.
The couple wade and throw sticks.
The dog plunges in, barking.

I wait, swim out, sun off, wait,
Swim out, sun off, wait again,
Trying not to feel awkward
When I crutch over the rocks.
The girls are taking pictures
Of each other. One poses
Holding her belly and laughs.

The older couple avoid
The girls, aware of the weight
Of age, tattoos, old swimsuits.
The girls pretend they're not there.
We're all self-conscious, except
The dog, who gnaws a wet stick,
Growling embodied pretense.

3. The Apple Tree Restaurant

A crowd of Albertans has taken
The best tables before I get there
But I find an old tourist smoking
And drinking coffee in the hot sun
Who's willing to share her sunny bench
In the back corner of the garden.
She jokes with me in a rasping voice
While I wait for my sandwich. Her name
Is Eve and she's been here forever.

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