SPOTLIGHT: Swim at Your Own Risk by John Dorroh

“Patrons with Open Sores & Rashes Are Not Permitted in the Hot Tub”

The self-inspection of the flesh is obligatory.
Those who fail to qualify must step back
away from the pool. Do not walk into the lobster pot.
Sanitize your towels. Do not rub the sore spot
and then your eyes. Stay away from those who you know
are compromised in any way.

Your flashy swim trunks are not a free pass.
Do not spoil the fun for others. Rashes can be explained.
Open sores cannot.

“Do Not Stand, Kneel, or Rotate on the Water Slide”

Sometimes it’s good to relax, lie still wherever you are
and let the air flow through your hair. Close your eyes
and just be. Let the forces take control of your body.

You will pass through several stages. The first one,
you fight and flinch and never close your eyes,
afraid of the unknown, reluctant to trust
what you cannot see.

You will practice serenity once you feel the rules
crawling up under your skin. It will overtake you,
your breath will sync with your heartbeat and then
you will understand how to relax.

Lie back on the acrylic trough and wait to be released.
You will feel the effects of gravity pulling you down
swiftly into oblivion. You will want more,
but soon your feet will push the water back to make
a wake that will be felt across the length of the pool,
through the Crazy River, all the way to the lifeguard
who waits like a buzzard for an accident.

You will learn the importance of following the rules,
keeping your hands and legs to yourself, not rocking
your body from side to side as it unrolls itself
like a butterfly’s tongue until it meets the surface
of the sea.

“The Pool Water is Not Suitable for Drinking”

Like the ocean, the water never ends. When the sun
shines through the big glass windows, it makes diamonds
sparkle on the bottom of the pool. My breast strokes
propel me gracefully like a sting ray on the surface,
expelling my breath with each new thrust. I taste
it, unavoidably swallowing milliliters each time
I pump my chest like the well-oiled machine
that it is. Who monitors such things?

I think it’s the honor system with people like me.
Perhaps others, with plastic cups and drinking bottles
in hands, dipping into the chlorinated water for refreshment,
revitalization of tissues & cells.

E.coli and other pathogens seem to need water
for perpetuation of the species. I doubt, as in the case
of sharks, that they seek out human victims
to make them violently ill or to put them into the ground.
But one never knows. You cannot trust what you cannot see.

“No One Should Swim Alone”

Life is a river, falling downhill at an incredibly
slow rate of descent. In it, no fish swims alone,
even the intuitively-determined salmon who beats
all odds, bending gravity’s tail back upon itself
in order to spawn, to perpetuate the species,
surrounding itself with school.

There are green plants below the surface
of the water producing invisible bubbles of oxygen
so that all creatures may live another season,
another year. Snakes & turtles, crawfish & snails,
river mussels & water bugs all live in some semblance
of harmony. With the arms of miracles, all the pieces
of the puzzle fit together.

That no man is an island, and there’s safety in numbers
may be true, and so it is that the lifeguard is there
whether you like it or not. Unless her car veered
off the road on the way to work and she’s saving herself
from drowning in a deep rain-filled ditch while you bob
in the water all alone, not expecting any accident whatsoever.


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