august: water in a few forms

August was a month where I spent slightly more time swimming than running (swim = 14 nours, 1 minute, 10 seconds / run = 13 hours, 49 minutes, 50 seconds — thanks to my apple watch for the data). And I spent more time thinking and writing about water and swimming than I did land and running. I also spent time preparing my daughter for her driving test (she passed!) and recovering from teaching my class all July. Here are a few things I did in relation to water this month:

form one: river sea lake

At some point during the month, I planned to focus on the differences between types of water, like rivers, seas and lakes. I started a draft, but didn’t get very far, just the following notes. I’d like to return to this and incorporate some of it into a long poem about open swim that I’m tentatively planning to do.


Alice Oswald and the differences between rivers (Dart) and seas (Nobody). She talks about it somewhere (find).

Rivering vs lakeing vs seaing. Can I make lake-ing a thing?

Lake Nokomis and the farmer who sold the final bit of land to the city of Minneapolis: Ebenezer Hodson

Why I like lake water: not wild swimming but open swimming — managed to some extent, tamed, but not controlled

Lake nokomis: small-ish, not really a lake, not epic or grand or BIG! no waves or sharks no undertow, not too deep, more subtle requires effort to notice to see the smaller pleasures joys excitements dangers … those who stay — poem

from A Swim on Co. Wickham/ Derek Mahon

Spirits of lake, river
and woodland pond preside
mildly in water never
troubled by wind or tide;
and the quiet suburban pool
is only for the fearful —

no wind-wave energies
where no sea briar grips
and no freak breaker with
the violence of the ages
comes foaming at the mouth
to drown you in its depths.

From Nowhere/ Marie Howe

I think the sea is a useless teacher, pitching and falling
no matter the weather, when our lives are rather lakes

unlocking in a constant and bewildering spring.

relation to time/origins-source, find darby nelson quote

form two: how to be a fish

I started a resource page on my Undisciplined site called, How to Be a Fish. I’m gathering resources, ideas, poems, etc. on water and putting them in this virtual space.

form three: 2 poems in progress

During August (and into early September), I wrote 2 small poems inspired by 2 images from open swim that I wrote about in log entries. Here are the images and the poems:

one: a row of (not) menancing swams

A crowded lake with lots of open water swimmers and boats. During the third loop, I noticed a line of giant swans off to my left. Tonight, they didn’t seem menancing, just strange. Out of scale — were they too big, or was the lake too small?

log entry for 16 august

The above log entry was the rare occasion when I didn’t describe swans as menacing. Most of my entries about swans were more like this bit from august 19th:

Some names for a collection of swans: wedge, ballet, lamentation, whiteness, regatta. I think I prefer, a menace of swans.

log entry for 19 august

Too big for this small
lake, half a dozen
giant white swans spread
out near the far shore
in a slow march of
magic & menace.
Each time I breathe to
my left they appear.
Sometimes I ignore
them, sometimes I race
them, and sometimes I
believe they’re not boats.

two: the way a swimmer’s stroke made the water sparkle and guided me across the lake.

Image of the swim: Swimming towards the big beach, into the sun, I noticed spots of shimmering water ahead of me. I followed them towards the opposite shore. Then I realized: the shimmer was where there was a swimmer! Their disruption of the water with their strokes was causing the light to dance on the ripples. So cool! It was beautiful to see, and to think about each of us, out there on the lake, shimmering and shining and emitting a guiding light for each other. Even as I get irritated with some swimmers or bikers, I want to remember this image of each of us as a shimmering light dancing on the surface.

log entry 29 july

Hands slice through water
ripples catch light
sun surface swimmers
converge into chorus.
Listen, their notes of
shimmer & shine sing
to you. Each point of
contact between lake
and fingers and light
an over here, this
, come shine with us.
As your body breaks
surface, stroke after
stroke, it sings along.