Friday, August 01, 2008

The Lower Chesapeake Bay

Whatever happened to the cross-chest carry,
the head carry, the hair carry,

the tired-swimmer-put-your-hands-on-my-shoulders-
and-look-in-my-eyes retrieval, and what

became of the stride jump when you leap
from impossible heights and land with your head

above water so that you never lose sight
of your drowning person, or if he is close enough

where is the lifesaver ring attached to a rope
you can hurl at your quarry then haul

him to safety, or as a last resort
where is the dock onto which you tug

the unconscious soul, place him face down,
clear his mouth, straddle his legs, and press

with your hands on both sides of his rib cage
to the rhythm of out goes the bad air in

comes the good air and pray he will breathe,
hallowed methods we practiced over and over

the summer I turned eighteen to win
my Water Safety Instructor's badge,

and where is the boy from Ephrata, Pa.,
I made out with night after night in the lee

of the rotting boathouse at a small dank camp
on the lower Chesapeake Bay?

Maxine Kumin

The Southern Review
Summer 2007

This poem is from is from the Daily Poetry archives. Have not been on the internet much this week but will make an effort to keep this up.

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