ONE POEM – Ross Thompson

Joseph De Martini, Seascape (ca. 1938–39) via The Met Collection

Nightswimming

A jumble sale of loosened jeans, discarded shirts
and hastily abandoned shoes trails a higgledy
catenary from sandbank to jagged shoreline.

The garments quiver like pennants, ringing
with the voices of friends, hopped up on hormones
and adrenalin, sprinting full throttle to an expectant sea.

Beneath the light of a bashful demilune,
the water appears quite black, like blood on snow.

Undeterred, your gang tears a barefoot path to the rim

of a shadowed parabola. When you break through,
as a needle pricks the skin, the shock knocks the air
clean out of your lungs… but in that moment,

when all is muffled, wrapped in cloth, floating between
the seaweed and the stars, you forget about sharks
and dark things lurking beneath your pinwheeling feet.

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