lake nokomis main beach
Another chance to swim in the lake this morning! Every swim now is a bonus. Much less choppy today but still not smooth. Overcast. I kept seeing silver streaks below me, most likely fish. I’ve been writing/revising some poetry lately about being in and one with the lake and the fish, but it takes me a few minutes to get over my fear of fish below. Most of them are small, probably all of them are harmless, but there are a few bigger fish that could bump into me. It’s a bit ridiculous, I suppose. It didn’t stop me from swimming, although it might have been the reason I only swam 1 mile and not 2. As I felt a little panic in the first loop I thought, how could I ever swim in the ocean or across a bigger lake, if these silver streaks are freaking me out? Then I remember an essay I read by Lauren Groff about swimming in the ocean and how the fear of the unknown below you and learning how to manage it or embrace it is part of the point. I was unsettled, but I still swam, so maybe I could swim in the ocean…
10 Things I Noticed
- A seagull perched on a white buoy, flying away only seconds before I reached it
- Small undulations in the water, sometimes looking like waves, sometimes something else (a fish?a stick? another swimmer?)
- A few small vines brushing my shoulder, a leaf touching my finger
- A family of 3 on a kayak or a canoe or a paddle board — I couldn’t tell with my eyes half in, half out of the water
- Drums beating across the lake from the Monarch Butterfly Festival
- A little girl repeatedly singing while in the water, “Swim with me in the sea!” as I waded out from the beach
- Fluffy, shredded clouds covering the mostly blue sky
- A plane flying fast overhead
- The bubbles from my hand as it entered the water and pushed down below my torso
- The dude standing on some motorized paddle board/hoverboard, speeding across the lake after my swim — a strange, unreal sight
Getting back to the fish below me, before I went swimming, I was working with one of my favorite lines from Anne Sexton’s wonderful poem, “The Nude Swim:”
All the fish in us
had escaped for a minute.
The real fish did not mind.
We did not disturb their personal life.
We calmly trailed over them
and under them
As I was swimming, pretending to be a fish for 30 minutes, I wondered what the real fish below me thought. Were there any real fish there? If so, what did I look like to them, up above on the surface? Did my form cast a shadow below? In the turgid water, could they even sense me above?
In a document named “fragmentsforswimminglatefall,” I found the start of a poem based on the first bit from Sexton’s poem: All the fish in us/ had escaped for a minute.”
At the lake
I let loose the fish in me
all winter she has waited
under the surface
of my icy skin
now in june
she is restless
together we enter
the cold water
before I take
my first stroke
she is gone
reborn in endless blue
remembering her fins
This poem needs some work, but I like the idea of letting loose the fish in me.