March 4, 2020


they say that to teach someone how to swim

you just throw them in

to the deep end

theyll learn


I tried that once

by accident

at a dead-of-the-winter outing to a local pool

I mis-read the marks

and jumped right in

to an infinity of water

(no, it wasnt infinite

but it was just infinite enough

it stood so sufficiently between




Death considered getting up)

even on my birthday

my hands didnt move so fast

I must have splashed

water inside itself

so hard was my dog-paddle

up toward salvation

and air


bug-eyed and gasping

grasping the cold ceramic wall

(still bruised)

clutching it with all I had left

I avoided the colder

more permanent wall


no one noticed


and I still hadnt learned how to swim

but I did learn how not to die



Inspired by Mary Olivers “The Swimming Lesson”

and memories of a suddenly deep swimming pool


How I Learned to Swim
A poem by Peter Rhebergen

Copyright 2021

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