by Kathleen Szoke

                                             Arms arcing through water
                                                     again and again
                                             subdued splash of hands and feet
                                                     sounds muffled and echoed

                                             clench of chlorine in nostrils
                                                     cleansing, cool water
                                             vision blurred, the guiding stripe
                                                     ripples below

                                             touch and push off
                                                     over and over
                                             head turning, reaching for breath
                                                     rhythmic, repeated

                                             oxygen into lungs, into blood
                                                     through the body
                                             legs and arms and torso
                                                     near weightless

                                             gliding, skimming, muscles working
                                                     driving forward
                                             straining, reaching
                                                     without destination

                                             rising up at last
                                                     spent and trembling
                                             drops of water


Lengths was originally published in Hammered Out, Issue #2, January 2002.