Heat surrounds me in heavy humid drifts
in the dressing room at the Albany pool.
Overhead pipes drip on naked torsos.
My inner arms expand – embrace each face:
Chinese, Japanese, Caucasian matrons,
Blacks, bleached from inter-marriage,
aspiring school kids – eager to learn.
Baring our bodies, an olio of faiths
orbits in laps toward the other side.
Deep or shallow – open for torahs,
arks, crosses, chadros, little Hoti Buddhas.
The life guard stands ready, paroles the
Olympic expanse, still stuck in dogmatic rules:
shower first, slow swimmers to the right,
fast ones in the middle, time to get out.
Poised at the deep end – I jump,
come up – cleansed of my lifetime affair
with dogma. Free to choose my lane.