Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Learning to Swim on Dry Land

Today I've been reading Katherine Pierpoint's 'Truffle Beds' - the collection from which Going Swimmingly in an earlier post is taken. She is a great poet, her poems are full of surprises: striking sensory imagery and a quirky way of viewing life. She describes the natural world brilliantly and I strongly recommend the book. Here's another swimming poem from it which I love.

Swim Right Up to Me

I first learnt to swim at home in my father's study
On the piano stool, planted on the middle of the rug.
Stomach down, head up, arms and legs rowing hard;
I swam bravely, ploughing up the small room,
Pinned on a crushed stuckness of stomach to tapestry,
The twin handles hard on my elbows on the back stroke.
A view down through four braced wooden legs
To the same thin spot in the rug.
My mother faced me, calling rhythmic encouragement,
Almost stepping back to let me swim up to her,
Reminding me to breathe;
And wiping my hair and eyes with her hand
As I swam and swam on the furniture against a running tide,
Pig-cheeked, concentrating on pushing and pushing away,
Planning to learn to fly next, easy,
Higher than the kitchen table, even. The garden wall.

Katherine Pierpoint


  1. love that!
    have you read Miranda July's short story, 'The Swim Team'?

  2. thanks for your comment and no I don't know that story but I'll look for it!