Saturday, January 2, 2010

Our Saturday Writers' Group / Poem: A Cold Bracing Swim over Death

Good turnout. We pull together tables at the Weinrich Bakery coffeeshop, order our drinks, and do our thing. Mary had a jelly doughnut. She has beautiful blue eyes that cannot see. She remembers huge parcels of our poetry and then comments on it.

I was a bit nervous cuz I was going to NY later in the day and had to leave at 3:30 exactimento. As moderator, I hurried things along but all 8 of us had a chance to read, including our newcomer Paddy Marie, a former English teacher.

Paddy mentioned that the Weinrich matriarch was on the premises. I'd met her son Stephen who runs the shop - bakery and coffeeshop - but I'd never met his mom. We called her over to our table, we all introduced ourselves. Catherine "Kippie" Weinrich is orig. from Atlantic City. She has 5 sons. She and our writer Judy, who also grew up in AC, were discussing people and places there, a veritable Monopoly game.

Today Mrs. Weinrich lives in a house in Wyncote, a famous house for a bad reason.

The prior owner was murdered in the house. Our Linda knew all about it. If I didn't have to make a train to NY, I would've learned all about the coldblooded murder.


always I remembered the pool
cold winds blew on deck
I drew my shawl close
glanced at the pool
not long
shy as a lover
I’d swim her by the end of the week
but not today
too cold
my flesh quailed

an aging fading beauty
my life mostly spent
must do one last swim
perhaps to die while breasting the waves

Beatles music blared from hidden speakers
the passengers must not be allowed to think
must be entertained and numbed for seven straight days
it took to create the earth or
the ship’s curriculum

I found freedom on the deck
away all servants! and waiters hovering!
let me feel frigid and alone
let me feel helpless and afraid
let me lay my own nightgown upon the coverlet

the pool, they said, was salty as
the silken mediterranean that flowed below
and kept us afloat
a thousand of us who
thought not of mutiny but
did the modern things
people on cruises do
I wrote in my diary some
thanked Medron, our bowlegged servant
kissed my grown daughter goodnight
and told her of my love
thinking all the while of
pool and my deathdefying swim

dropped my robe upon the deck
stood alone beneath the flags
I was all alone
beneath a cold blue sky
and if there was a moon
I never saw it
as I lowered myself down the ladder
trembling with cold and fear and need
my legs remembered what to do
as I kicked off from the pool
ears submerged
the cold wrapped me in the moon goddess’s embrace
white and shiny
a Grace Kelly glove
taking me across the pool
coming alive
and felt the pain and the sadness
the needles of being alive
in the salty salt water of life.


  1. Love the poem and the chilling but terrific images, Ruth! Thanks for this highlight to my rather boring paperwork-laden day.

  2. thanks, iris. nothing makes me feel better than a compliment about a poem.