Neither parents present at first swim,
pale-pathetic, goose-bumped skin,
life-long aquatic dread quickly set in.
Arm motions awkward, geek-clumsy,
turbulent thrashed pool, sudsy,
lungfuls of water, Louis unlucky.
Showers, menacing macho laughs:
swear-shouting, working class lads;
brutal cold bulk, hated Blackrock baths.
Un-muscular, myopic, merely six,
misplaced middleclass, un-virile, thick:
nude nervous, fearful sausage-pricks.
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, active echo hell,
carillon relief, end-of-session bell.