Night Swimming
by Joan Colby

The moonlit quarry. You, swift kicking
In a determined crawl. Me, lazily side
Stroking. The water dark, cold, smeared
With starshine. Some boys arrived on the far bank
Calling to us, we could have feared
But didn’t, just kept swimming
From shore to shore, our arms glistening
With precision. Those boys gave up and left
Shouting things that we ignored. We were so sure
Of our abilities, how the evidence of swimming
Justified our young and slender bodies.
Of course, it was forbidden. A squad car shone
Its lights as we dived deep, unseen. Surfacing,
We watched the tail lights flee like animals.
Water in our mouths, our eyes, our long
Streaming hair. We shook ourselves dry,
It was past curfew, how we loved ourselves,
Our daring, our invincibility. How the water had
Been motionless except for our inscriptions.

Years later, the quarry dredged,
A sedan of murdered bodies recovered.
How all that time we swam
Above their bloated faces, letting the water slide
In a slick ambush over our small breasts,
How we could not then, begin to guess
What would befall us.

SOURCE: Originally published in Miller’s Pond (Winter, 2015).

PHOTOGRAPH: “The Pond — Moonlight (Mamaroneck, New York)” by Edward Steichen (1904).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review,etc. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She has published 16 books including Selected Poems from FutureCycle Press which received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize and Ribcage from Glass Lyre Press which has been awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. She is also a senior editor of FutureCycle Press and an associate editor of Kentucky Review.