Local Lit

LOCAL LIT: ‘All the Way to Immortality: Swimming Laps on Christmas Eve’

poetry by John Graves Morris

John Graves Morris |

Once, in my breathless midst

of trudging many laps around 

and around a track, sweat 

drenching my shirt quite through,

a sometime acquaintance sneered

that I was running to perspire

myself all the way to immortality.

Gasping and depleted, I

quietly disputed his swipe,

but how else can I understand

the lure of all this light

as it bounces and sprays

glare from the midday sun? 

My arms and legs thrash

through the chopping water,

eyes dazzling with starshine

when turned up toward breath,

down to the sunlit spine of black 

tile on the bottom.  An ellipsis

of white intercedes before

the dark returns, elevates 

and transforms itself on the far

wall into a ceramic cross. Each

touch and turn complete one

more station of this pilgrimage

that repays the body’s passage

in renewed coins of breath,

of light, that seem as if they

could go on forever. Even though

they can’t, who wouldn’t want

to haul himself up, water draining

as his lungs balloon with air

and swell with a love of the

only life he has? Who wouldn’t

want to feel his skin aglow,

consider it a gift he would

travel for miles to bestow

gladly onto any child lying

warm in even the rudest of cribs

on the very day of his birth?


John Graves Morris earned his BA in English from UW-Eau Claire in December 1977. He is the author of Noise and Stories (Plain View Press, 2008). To learn more, visit johngravesmorris.org


comments 1