Staying Cool at the Pool

He climbed the plastic rungs of the ladder

and tried to remember what it was like to scale this when the pool had just been built

20 years before

when the high dive for him was a cause of much excitement and consternation

now, as he stepped on the board, he felt sure of himself

he knew exactly what he needed to do to achieve flawless execution

and make the kids shake the fence in approval

in his thirties, he knew what he was capable of and what he wasn’t

the wisdom of age had granted him so much but also stolen something

his son, now 9, would beg him to do double flips or a front flip with a pair of twists

“Dad you can do it. I know you can. Just don’t worry.”

How could he explain to him that as you get older there’s a huge leap between being capable of something and doing it

that at a certain point your brain and muscles begin an argument that lasts decades

and is only resolved by death

As he ran his hands through his long black hair and stretched out his hamstrings , his ritual

he noticed a new face among the mothers beyond the diving pool, beneath the tarp

younger than the stay at homes that liked to steal glances at him,

she didn’t seem to have any little ones pulling on her limbs

and was wearing a black and white sun hat with a 4 inch brim, sunglasses, and a lopsided smile

when she saw him looking in her direction

if she hadn’t been sitting beside blue tank top guy (her husband, he’d assumed),

and if he was still that wiry 19-year-old hardcore drummer

and not a pizza worker supporting his kid

he would have polished off a double flip without a pause

and then they’d have snuck off to the bathroom to screw

Standing upright now, his back and legs straight, he took three long steps in preparation for his dive

suddenly he heard loud cheers coming from behind him where the other divers waited for their turn

He looked off to the side to the second matching high dive and then down at the water

at his son

who’s eyes lit when they made eye contact

“Dad, dad, I did it! I did it! I did a double flip! Now it’s your turn!”

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7 thoughts on “Staying Cool at the Pool

  1. Brieuse Bernhard Piers-Gûdmönd says:

    I think your stories were always good – but they’re getting better and better and better. There’s a danger of my becoming a fawning devotee.

  2. Miranda Stone says:

    Excellent prose poem, Ian! That last line brings the story together so well.

  3. LindaGHill says:

    Very nicely written piece. 🙂
    Could you please do me a favour and either put a widget at the side of your blog so that I can follow you by email, or put a check-box under the comments that would do the same thing? I don’t get to my reader often enough to see your work every day.
    Thanks 🙂

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