by Laurie Kolp

Last summer and the summer before
we joined the country club
not a full membership, heaven forbid
but a pool membership just to swim.

Driving there was quite a trek
from our side of town to the other
past the highway, railroad tracks
through the projects, convenience stores
with boarded up windows adorned in graffiti
litter splattered at the curbs—
sometimes I felt dirty
through osmosis.

We’d pass the cemetery
on the way to the country club—
it was practically at its front door—
and I’d make the sign of the cross.
At first the kids wondered why I did that
until I explained it was out of respect
for the dead.

The country club sat riverside
with a docking station to its left,
I could see water skiers from my lounge chair.
Sometimes dead fish swam in the breeze
from garbage bin to pool
but most of the time the air,
a nebulous spirit,
stood so still
I thought I might suffocate.

This summer you’re buried in that cemetery
by the country club, riverside.
We’ve joined a pool closer to home—
it’s just too hard to keep going.

SOURCE: This poem appears in the author’s chapbook Hello, it’s Your Mother (Finishing Line Press, 2015).

PHOTO: The author swimming in spirit of her mom. Taken shortly after her mother’s death, summer 2014.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laurie Kolp, author of Upon the Blue Couch and Hello, It’s Your Mother, has poems in concis, Prelude, Crack the Spine, Gargoyle, and more. She lives in Texas  with husband, three children, and two dogs,  where she has recently returned to teaching after a 14-year hiatus. Learn more at lauriekolp.com.