Life-long Aquatic Dread


Neither parents present at first swim,

pale-pathetic, goose-bumped skin,

life-long aquatic dread quickly set in.

Arm motions awkward, geek-clumsy,

turbulent limb-thrashed pool sudsy,

lungfuls of salt-water, Louis unlucky.


Un-muscular, myopic, aged merely six,

misplaced, middleclass, un-virile, thick;

nude-nervous, fearful, in-and-out quick

from showers, menacing macho laughs:

swear-shouting snarl, working class lads;

cold brutal bulk, hated Blackrock baths.



Final failure at boarding school,

dog-paddle pupil sank like metal tool,

panic-paralysed at bottom of pool.

Flailing futile – is drowning my end?

Fully-clothed first-aider: poolside friend

prepared to jump… slowly I ascend.



Fifty years on, feet still stupidly flap,

short-sighted blur, tight swimming cap,

infrequently visited, deep-end death-trap.

Pool-roof echoes, potent chlorine smell

nauseated this ninny, tiled echo hell,

relief when heard end-of-session bell.


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