You swim so much better than I:
one length of the pool, then two
and your grace in the water is fluid,
like a swan’s. I think of white feathers,
dark feet paddling under water.
Swans follow the ferry as it crosses
the River Stour. Yellow bills, sharp
over the side of the boat, stretch
for the dry crusts the ferryman
keeps in a plastic bag by the engine.
When he smiles at you, my stomach
tightens. When he nods, you break
bread, pinch it tight in rigid fingers,
and offer it to the swans. Round, black
buttons of eyes judge the exact distance.
Can these sleek, folded wings really
break an arm or a leg? Serrated edges
on wicked bills make short work
of stale bread even if it is iron hard.
After a little while, the pool’s chlorine
stings our eyes. Swimming side by side,
our eye-lids tightly closed, we dream
our way across the pool. Ten lengths,
twenty: our world is a watery vision
of a weekend package deal: paradise
for two. Your body above me now,
locked together in an ancient dance,
Leda and the Swan performed to perfection.