I stand. I am not allowed to stand anywhere other than the edge of this pool. Others might walk backwards past the smooth white tile and sanded grout. Scratch of cement. Into cool grass thick and ticklish at the ankles. Some others can even turn from the pool and walk away. Take a shower. Breathe deep the hot wet air and relax. Scrub off everything, even the chlorine smell from hair. The red of eyes. Some people they can just turn
I stand at the edge of the pool. Sometimes I take an interest in the sun. Look up. It is the omnipresent dry heat that makes the pool so alluring to begin with. Creates the glitter on ripples in the clear aqua blue. Burns shoulders and nose, eyelids, forehead. Dries the pink ring of lips until licking licking licking licking chafes the edges red raw and murderous. White chapped, a stinging ring of nettles. I stand at the edge of the pool, and look. Other times it becomes chilly and the pool is not enticing at all. I may take an interest in other people, the people around me. They are for the most part enjoying the day - they giggle and poke fun. They drink, smoke, lick at one another始s faces. Guzzle, chomp, stew in dream worlds all their own. Some notice the pool. Some have been swimming in it for far too long. Way down in the bottom holding their breaths in a competition to see who can do it the longest. Before dying, of course. Those in the pool nearly always remain too long. Some, few, are at the bottom and there is no saving them. Some never come out.
Most don始t notice the pool.
I stand at the edge of the pool, and look in.
My place is directly at the edge. Smooth white tile, grout that if it catches will rip that hangnail right off. The water reflects sky blue sky and glitters. It is so difficult to see dirt of it. The miniscule hands and feet of thin beings, insects, alit top the ripples. The band-aids stained yellow brown in splotches littering the bottom. The grease of sunning oil rainbow splatters a thin film covering everything. I stand at the edge of the pool, and look in only to dip a toe. It is difficult to remain at the edge of anything. So hot and bothered and unable to see the disgusting bits, the pool is ever inviting and sometimes sun and fun are not enough to capture the attention. The heat is omnipresent and the people are of interest but the pool, it is mecca. It is all that fills vision when I look, really look, into it. I始ve been in this pool before. Look who始s still alive, I only dip a toe. The water is as I remembered it - unknown. The opposite of life on the edge. It is not so much pleasant as a welcome difference to the rest of time. Life at the edge can become such a bore. I stand at the edge of the pool, and look in only to dip a toe. The pool sucks me in. There is no such thing as only dipping a toe. Any idiot can tell you that. A toe dipped creates a vacuum, a sinkhole. In goes right foot. A swish and a kick of the water and you know how this goes. I sit at the edge and dunk both legs. Feet kick underwater but the vacuum is not content with calves and ankles and feet and toes. The pool wants whole bodies. To consume them. I stand at the edge of the pool, and look in only to dip a toe. The pool sucks me in whole. Arms are never strong enough to remain extended. Locked straight with water waist high, legs first before ribs and breasts and shoulders. I am underwater so soon and the vacuum closes the gap between water and world above. Air no longer exists other than in the tiny bubbles that grip skin. Down here the water is clear ly filthy. Secrets of the thin sheet above have been washed away. Air exists only in the tiny bubbles that cling to me and the others down here. Some break the surface and pull themselves aloft. Some are dragged out by those above and some, some you see at the bottom too far to make out features. They have become the rocks - they stare at
nothing. Too deep for observation, want nothing to do with even us just above the reach of hands. Air exists only in the tiny bubbles that cling to us and drift as soldiers do ever onward, skyward. Air exits my lungs too quickly and this always happens the air is gone. It floats away and it seems as ages ago that I stood at the edge of the pool, and looked in only to dip a toe. This is why it is better to stand there, I think, at the edge. Close enough to keep track and remain in wonder. Close enough to smell it and god forbid dip to drink from it. Trapped between sky and water, that始s the place to be. Not down here, no, not where the air is only tiny and it escapes me. Air forms tiny bubbles that cling to eyelashes and force the world of the pool from sight. There is bleach here to change whites to reds and the rainbow oil taints the taste of it. From under the water the sky looks just as the pool did - clear, blue. It shimmers and anything is better than this way down here. Hands must break the seal and grip slimed tile, rimmed in green and sanded grout, abrasive to hands soaked through. It is never quite so warm once out of the pool, that始s an issue. Takes time for heat to regain and the red of bleached eye whites to rinse away. For the sounds of people laughing and jostling, drinking cool wet things and smiling or crying, for them to come back. Stay too long under and all ears register is radio silence. I sit at the edge of the pool, and look in only. There are ripples that remain from where I broke back through and the pool drips from me in tiny bubbles that ache to rejoin the only joy they know. I prefer air to water, I remember this now, only, up here. Radiant heat from the sky knocks the rest of the pool from me and I wish to tear eyes from the depths and turn
I am only allowed to be at the edge of the pool, in or out it doesnʼt matter much to anyone. Eye remain glued to blue and to rip them away Iʼd have to cut them out. To scratch the colour out and let the black mercury that forms pupil drip from bored holes. I sit at the edge of the pool, and look. Heat is radiant white. It consumes whole, if this heat were color it would be deepest black. All the way down to toe tips, blood rushing around bone through vein and capillary into muscle and back out. Warmth flows to every bit of being and the pool becomes still once again. The air up here is sweet with the relish of life and the sounds rise to distraction. Flowers bloom and decay just off to the edges where the thick grass has grown. The water bears little interest so I move to push myself up from arms extended to straight pins and
I stand at the edge of the pool. I may not move from here, not yet at least. There are those at the bottom and those swimming about and those who dip in and quickly leave. There are those who look upon it and never dip a toe and those walking about in the clear sun who wouldnʼt recognize the pool if you threw them in headfirst to the shallows. I look upon the people and even for a time the sun. Heat is constant -I now dry from the inside out. Wrinkles leave fingertips as raisins once again become grapes. The drips stop and sweat beads in its place. I lick at lips still roundly soft. It might be nice to leave the pool. But that is not my lot. Iʼve told you if youʼve been listening that my place is at the edge. The precipice, this edge is my own. I may not stand any one place as uncomfortably comforting as the edge.
Others walk backwards from it. Some people they can just
I stand. At the edge of the pool I stand.