Don’t float, swim.

Well, it has been a little while since I terrorized people on buses, transformed tunnels into listening parties and was humbled by people and their voices. I was so pleased with the end results of my travels on buses, the podcast with the help of Beat This and some amazing poets and voices made it a piece of work worthy of Radio 4 and maybe a nod from Roger McGough,  The link below is to where you can hear the final podcast: http://www.pect.org.uk/working-with-us/business-sector/green-festival-2015-poetry-on-the-buses-project

Also  if you live in Pbronx, go and take a look at the gel lights that we accidentally (ahem) left in the footbridge between the train station and Queensgate, it now looks like a rainbow at night. Just some guerilla gelling to make the world a better place.

 

I am presently working on my show again and I will also be posting something very soon about a collaboration with the very talented artist called Charron Pugsley-Hill on a really exciting piece of work. So in the meantime I have been swimming a lot in the Lido here in Peterborough and enjoying the sunshine, being with family and I have written a little poem about a recent experience of mine where I realised something that maybe I already knew but I needed the cool water to make me see.

 

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Don’t float, Swim.

 

Summer is here, with the hottest day of the year.

The Lido rises out of the warmth,like barley out of a heat haze.

Me and my dad walk towards it.

Retirement has given us new moments of pleasure and this is one of them.

The Lido’s peppermint walls shine down on the sapphire of the pool

and the hazel coloured eyes of my Father.

We laugh with the pretty lifeguard at the window, who lets us off 70p.

He who gave me a strawberry shaped nose makes her laugh

without breaking a sweat and with his devilish ease.

I tell him to meet me at the ladies end.

He shouts ‘aye’ I repeat it louder, forgetting that now he can’t always catch my words.

I mark that I must remember to never make a big deal of this,

To always say things again without losing my patience.

Else he might believe that he is getting too old after all.

After a quick change in my favourite dressing room,

where a girl called Lisa has chiselled in letters of love and the floor is thick with talc.

I paint in the whiteness with my bare toes.

I also struggle into my glamorous swimsuit that makes me into a Fenland Marilyn Monroe.

I lock up my things in the door numbered 603, I always choose it and add it up to nine.

I place my towel next to the regular ladies who swim here everyday, I give them a respectful nod.

Then I look at this piece of Italy that somehow landed itself in my city.

So much sky, so much pale, baby and cornflower blue.

I want to grasp it as if it were a harvest moon.

I anticipate the overwhelming feeling that I will get when I step into the water.

He appears, It is strange staring straight at the one man, I have looked up to

for my whole life.

His walk is so familiar like the scars on my face.

We dare each other to make the first stride down the steps of cobalt into the cool.

Then we are in the water’s arms.

My winking dad swims. Leaving me to endless strokes to try and beat him.

He is now two laps ahead, I am on my eighth, he on his tenth.

There is a part of me that is glad that he is still that little bit ahead.

As the Cathedral bells hit their chorus for a peel on St Peter’s day.

The heavens begin to rain, dropping darts of precious time onto the surface of the pool.

Still in front and with his breaths propelling him forward.

The romance of it all, the teeth chattering sentimentality of it all, makes me cry.

I swim and I release tears, all the while watching my dad.

Till I reach the edge and he turns to me smiling.

He loves to declare that I have a candle hanging, which means I may have snotted on myself.

The offending glue looking like the wick.

I take the chance to wash off the grime and the wet emotion. I laugh as he does the same, just in case.

I float at the deep end, he holds on to the ledge. We talk for a time.

Often now when my father reflects on his life both past and now. He sounds like a Motown track.

Otis Redding, just sitting on the dock of the bay. Watching the tide roll back out and in again.

On my 16th lap and he on his 18th. I ask myself why I cried for nearly 50 metres.

My answer hits me as a unseen current and I dive under the water so my father can’t see.

One day he will swim so far ahead of me that I won’t be able to close the gap and the waves will cover him.

As I take the first breath from being capsized. I pledge to never let this time float by.

I will always swim to be with my father and those who I love, making watery memories till

they have to leave me.

 

By Keely Jane Mills
July 17th 2015