Black water

Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath
It is joked that black people cannot swim
Listen at my chuckle as I count all those I know
– who can swim
– who can’t swim

Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath
Do not go near the swimming pool again
That was how he died!
Do you want to die like her?
Echoes of my mother’s scared admonition

Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath
I can feel my kicks faltering beneath the water
It is heavier today
I am assured of its desire to make me fail
And to jokingly join the presumption about black swimmers

Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath
I fail and stand again
I am in the shallow end
My eyes guide the seasoned swimmer as he glides by
Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath

Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath
I keep my focus on the ground
That my arms may arch perfectly
And my flow may be pristine
Today? tomorrow? next year?

Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath
My arms fail me and my legs give up
These lungs hold more than they give out
I guess today is not the day I am praised by myself
I guess today is not it

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