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Emily Stout


At the end of June,

They fill the public pool

With water the color of a rock-candy ring.

They turn on the fountain where all the kids run

And make new friends out of nothing.

Will you be my friend? One shouts while the water shoots

Well above their heads. The other girl nods

And grabs her hand.

Some answers don’t have to be shouted

To be understood. I guess I’m too old now

To do that sort of thing, to just grab a hand.

Instead, I will swim my laps and sit my hair cap

and goggles on the side along with another

swimmer’s. We will not look too obviously

At each other's latex-clad bodies as we move

From one end to the other.

We will not laugh at the way one wet strand of hair

clings like a mustache to her face.

In the locker room, I will not look at the women who are so

freely naked or examine all the different tools

and creams we use to get ourselves ready again.

I will not come back at the same time tomorrow,

Hoping for the same swimmer in the next lane.

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