We start off paddling in shallows,
uncertain of what is under our feet,
bemoaning the lack of depth.
Then the sand ends in sadness, a void,
head under water, cursing
never learning to swim.
Somehow saved, we sit on the beach
drawn to death, mesmerised by the
pull and repulse of the waves.
Slowly we learn, study, copy
back-stroke, breast-stroke, dog-paddle or
just using our hands to stay afloat.
People pair off, swim strongly away,
never return except as strange happy
yelps from over the horizon.
The laughter out there sometimes
bursts like fireworks, and sometimes it
fades faster than a tropical sun.
Some come back singly, shake their
wet hair, seek another swimmer
unbothered by the slow fat drops.
Others stalk up the beach to
hide in the trees, their run-off
making metaphors out of mud.
Emerging, chastened or just bored, the
lone one sees other singletons
silhouetted against a purpling sky.
Some have dry hair, some wet, all
wondering if its worth so much swimming,
pulled and repulsed by the waves.