Watching a Video of a Man Swimming Under Ice
He swims the stroke I would use,
both arms, both legs, flat and frog-like,
symmetry of the body in motion. I watch
in full-blown muscle memory as he
stalls a second, propels forward, stalls,
for the opening where he went in,
circling like an otter after a fish.
Or, he’s killing time, counting to himself,
trying to break a record. But with
every turn, eyes darting, searching,
it looks more and more like
a coat down on the ice, a yellow coat,
and another, red, a neon warning arrow of coats
leading him to where he first went under.
A dog runs into the picture, probably there
all the time, out of frame. I can’t hear
a soundtrack, but the dog makes
the motion of barking, frantically
sending the man a message,
over here, over here.
It reminds me
of a meditation I sometimes do, where
I’m to picture a calming, waveless plane,
half in, half out, waist deep in water.
Just a glimpse of it, the instructor says,
under water, above water. It’s an over-
simplification, I’m sure, perhaps the very
point of meditation, but I picture
a lake like this, colder than I can stand,
going on a long way.
The man bobs up
into a little ice-cleared pool, into the place
where gently rocking waves lured him in.
He stands knee deep, shakes wildly
like a child out of a bath gone cold.
Then the film loops back to the beginning
and we swim again.
Luci Huhn is a poet writing in Southwest Michigan. She is retired as Director of Training at a group of Native American casinos in that area. She has recently had poems appear in Rattle Magazine’s Poets Respond, Persimmon Tree, Voices II, and Mothers Always Write. Her chapbook, The Years That Come After, was published by Breakwater Press. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.