LISA HOWARD (swimming)

The lifeguard blasts his whistle
because I’m too far out to sea,
past the jetties, past the buoys
that mark the usual swimming areas.
I am beyond shore and sand,
quite possibly in the shipping lanes?
He blows his whistle again,
and I suppose, in time, I will have to return
to the safety of the beach chairs and umbrellas,
and of old men hawking soda and pretzels.
But for now, out here, I am free and floating,
with no one to tell me how to swim,
where to swim, and who to swim towards.
Sometimes, you just have to tread water,
and see where you are in the grand design of things,
be ready to float beyond all reach
wherever time and tide carry you.
Sometimes, you must swim very far out,
far from the crowd, far from the people
who call you back to the mundane and regular shore.
You have to be your own person, you know,
with strokes and breathing very much your own.