Margaret Moores (Massey University, New Zealand)
“Ready. Go!” the swim coach is Russian −
his accent, learned in a town surrounded by seas
of short grasses under steel grey skies, turns the pool into
an iced-up pond. The children kick underwater
and rise, stroking for the end and tumble-turn back.
I’ve seen him running in the early morning through our delicate frosts,
his breath a whispering plume of question marks.
On the way home, the boys shout “Ready. Go!”
with a Russian accent. “Ready. Go!”
Yes, I saw them dive, saw them backstroke, saw them try butterfly.
They smell of chlorine, goggles leave red marks around
their eyes, their hair has a greenish tinge. They wind down
the windows to let in the drone of lawnmowers,
the scent of two-stroke, and grass.
The coach calls his wife and she weeps. Vapour trails
scribble across her sky; a cool wind from the north blows
wavelets through the empty fields. He smokes behind the pump house,
puts out his cigarette in an empty coke can. “My wife,”
he says, showing me his phone. At night, he swims alone,
churning up and down the lanes,
each length a few metres further from home.
Margaret Moores has been a bookseller and publisher’s sales representative for many years but is now a PhD student in Creative Writing at Massey University. Her poems and short fiction have been published in journals and anthologies in New Zealand and Australia.