nov 8/SWIM

1+ mile (1950 yards)
ywca pool

Another swim! So happy to be able to swim this late fall and winter. I did my usual: continuous 200s freestyle, broken up by 50s, breathe every 3/4/5/6 strokes. On a few flip turns, my right knee cap felt strange, but otherwise it was okay. I felt strong and buoyant, stretched flat at the surface.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. A woman in a blue and green suit with booties, then flippers, on, swimming breaststroke, backstroke, and freestyle. Older, I think, and a good, strong swimmer
  2. An older man in a speedo on the other side of me, swimming freestyle and breaststroke
  3. A man in black board shorts swimming along the bottom, then running — was he injured?
  4. the colored tiles on the bottom of the pool looked extra blue
  5. a few white tiles had some stuff on them — chipped? mildew?
  6. at the end of the lane, the wall is marked with a giant plus sign — I think of it as black, but it is probably blue to match the tiles. I had no problem seeing it
  7. I struggled to see if there were any swimmers in the water when I was picking my lane — is that an elbow, or just a trick of the light?
  8. everything I lifted my head (still practicing sighting every so often), I saw orange. Where was the orange coming from?
  9. as my arms entered the water and my body rotated slightly, I felt like a boat with my feet as rudders
  10. glanced down at the big drains on the bottom of the pool and thought about Jaws and the great opening chapter I just read a few months ago (The Swimmers)

Continuing November’s theme of gray. Today: smudge. Thinking about one of my favorite vision poems, I Look Up from My Book and Out at the World through Reading Glasses by Diane Seuss. It begins, “The world, italicized.” and ends,

It’s a paradise of vagaries.
No heartache.
Just and eraser smudge,

All forms, the man wrote, tend toward blur.

Today looking at the lines, posted on, I puzzled over one: Just and eraser smudge. I’ve thought about this line before and wondered what it means. Just and? What is the just here? Suddenly I wondered if it was a typo. I checked out the ebook from the library and looked. Yes! Here’s the actual line:

Just an eraser smudge,

That makes so much more sense! I thought I just wasn’t getting it, which can happen with poetry.

I like the smoke-gray and smudge gray. It makes me think of a vision poem I started, but has stalled, about not being able to see my daughter’s face when she tells me a story:

the motions of the dipping birds/ sara lynne puotinen

My daughter sits on a couch near the window and tells me a story.
I listen to her words, watch her small hands rise and fall,
dart and flick, sweep the air. Each shift in movement
the difference between excitement anger exasperation disdain.

When I look up, the space where a face should be is not
a face but a smudge, as if someone took a dried out eraser
from the end of an old pencil and tried to remove the lines
but failed. Each attempt has darkened the page until

what remains is a mess of almosts — a space almost filled,
lines almost legible, a face almost there. My eyes move
to her shoulder to find her features in my periphery.
I look again at her center and almost see an eye, a nose, her mouth.

My gaze returns to her hands. I listen to her words
and marvel at the soft feathers of her fingers.