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 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.


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