Watching two old people swim

Valerie Bence 


I have an ache to take a slow walk into water,

with a man loved a lifetime long.


There would be the barest brush of arm on shoulder,

to reassure as cold creeps up bones, older now.


He would know things, be a reader of maps and the sea,

have a head for direction, be able to sniff the air

tell a squall from approaching thunder;

we would walk the sunken lanes, he would know

a badger’s crossing-point, have a voice for reading,

a hand for holding and know the way.

When he was gone, I would stand staring out to sea

like a whaler’s wife.  But now, in this fantasy


we stand knee deep, then thigh high in water

fingers touching.  We swim, knowing each other’s pace


without looking, then emerge into sun, a slight breeze

cooling drops on thin skin.  He comes towards me,


with a yellow towel…..


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