Catherine Wald Rye Beach1
In the Swim
by Catherine Wald

I plunge in water cold and clear
to glide as weightless as a fish
with fluid motions lithe and sleek:
and as I dive, I disappear —
cut loose from earthly want and wish.
To learn anew to see and seek,
I slide below mad wave and chop
descend beneath slick surfaces,
ignoring pulls from shore and pier.
There are no stage sets here or props,
no boundaries or differences,
no tendencies to plan or steer.

As currents tug and buoy me,
I am a creature quite transformed:
a mermaid queen, a siren bold,
a woman who knows liberty
with cooled-down skin but blood still warm
whose legends are as yet untold.

PHOTO: The author with her mother at Rye Beach in Rye, New York, approximately 1956. The white towers in the background are Rye Playland.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve been a water baby since an early age (as you can see from the photo). I wrote this poem in response to my mother-in-law and her sister, who used to make fun of me for being in the water all the time when we spent time at their cabin on Lake Champlain. I wanted to convey to them why I love the water so much.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Catherine Wald is a poet and teacher based in Manhattan. Her poems have appeared in American Journal of Nursing, Chronogram, Friends Journal, Minerva Rising, J Journal, The Lyric, New York Times, Quarterday Review and Westchester Review; her chapbook, Distant, burned-out stars, was published in 2011 by Finishing Line Press. She is author of The Resilient Writer: Tales of Rejection and Triumph from 23 Top Authors (Persea 2005).  Visit her at