October Swimmer

As I was  leaving the beach one late October morning, some passers-by said “You’re her – you’re the October Swimmer!”

Thank you, Valery Nash.

October Swimmer

The figure, we said, was a woman.
Something about her slimness,
the way she stood so long, looking out,
as if to stand waist deep in ocean
was what she had come for.
 
We were half-way down the beach
and though I meant to keep my eyes
steadily on her
to catch the moment she dived in,
I must have been watching the dog
or tossing the ball.
When I looked again
she was almost invisible, stroking
far out.
 
This was October, cool
Cape Ann, where the water’s icy
even in August.
How long she held herself
on the verge of plunging
How long, how far she swam.
 
I thought, on city streets
a woman doesn’t linger
as easily as a man
or walk as far alone.
But from this ocean, she
is often the last to come in,
fighting the season’s cold
with the body’s joy.
 

from October Swimmer, poems by Valery Nash

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