Swimming Lessons

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.

About Cherise Wyneken

Cherise Wyneken is a freelance writer, whose stories, poems, and articles have appeared in a variety of publications, two books of poetry, a memoir, “Round Trip: Reflections On My Life and Rebellion,” a novel, “Freddie,” a poetry chapbook,” Old Haunts,” PUDDING HOUSE PUBLICATIONS, and a new book, Stir-Fried Memories, at WhisperingBooks.com.

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