Poem: The pool

January 16, 2014

The pool

Time is swimming in the same lane as me.
Lapping me, laughing at my leisurely, languorous crawl.
He churns up the water, rude rapid muscled butterfly.
He should move to the lane marked fast,
And get out of this one marked slow.
Now Time swims slower, I have him at my shoulder.
I am still crawling, lazily elegant,
But he has broken into breaststroke, cloying and contained,
And so we swim side by side, companionably.
I am suddenly breathless, but way out in front.
Time dog-paddles, inefficient, no kick at all.
I can’t help winning.
I’ll soon hit the wall.
I can’t tumble turn.

P.S. Cottier

As the temperature in Canberra was 40 degrees celsius yesterday, and feels about the same today, I felt that a poem about swimming was called for. Swimming and death!


I went swimming at the Australian Institute of Sport pool earlier this week, and was quite pleased that I managed to do a kilometre (20 laps) as I haven’t swam in a proper pool for a while. Most of my water immersion activity (ah, the beauty of unnecessarily complicated expressions!) is undertaken at the beach these days.

But in 40 degrees, the pool seems the place to be, and one risks serious sunburn swimming outside in this weather, if one is as slow a swimmer as I am. Hilariously, a tourist one filmed me at the AIS, where the Australian swim team trains. He must have thought I was a proper swimmer. Given that I really can’t tumble turn, or dive, he must have a very strange idea of Olympic swimming!

‘The pool’ was first published in the Hand Luggage Only anthology, (UK) 2008, edited Christopher Whitby.

5 Responses to “Poem: The pool”

  1. Norah said

    Thank you for sharing this. It is very well timed, as you say, with our heat. I, also, having been thinking a lot about time and death, while swimming in the pool. Though not as eloquently as you. I tend to think that time is in the fast lane, and I wish it would just slow down and let me be for a while. You swam 20 laps. I do too, but in my home pool. That’s only 500 metres, and I thought I was doing well!

    • pscottier said

      Norah, I am only returning to swimming as it is just too hot to go to the gym. I do like the way that it becomes a kind of meditation, though, breathing after a certain number of strokes and even forgetting that one is swimming. I’m sure really good swimmers concentrate all the time! There are advantages to being slow.

      I can only really do freestyle, and I know I have certain faults in that. Perhaps I should try to learn the other strokes better this year, before I run out of laps!

      Thanks for commenting.

  2. Norah said

    I didn’t tell you that my “swimming” is a very individual Norah-style! Let’s not run out of laps too soon!

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