Glenis Redmond

The Marsh

Black campers are asked to leave the Valley Swim Club. It was said by one of the members that they “change the complexion of the pool.” —Philadelphia, 2009

The day felt like a swamp
full with the muck of it.
There are some days that hold you thick,
so intense you think, I’ll never forget this.

But here I am now wondering
what wing I was in. Was it “B” or “C”?
Was I on my way to Algebra II or lunch,
when I caught word that the invitation
had been pulled back for the pool party?

Not jerked from us all,
just the black cheerleaders.
The family didn’t want their water tainted.
The words punched like a full-on jab.

How does a 15-year-old brace the heart?
The first instinct is to strike
out like a cobra,
fill the air with righteous rain.

I can’t remember now, but somehow
I found my school spirit by Friday,
pumped all the pep I had into the rally,
but the blue and white had begun to fade.

That swimming pool memory
is not so crisp but the swamp
always creeps back into my mind.
I just wanted what all kids want

in the heat of July,
turquoise blue waters
unwavering and floating
holding me firm
the fray.


Artwork on this page:
Detail of Supper for the spotted skunk
24 x 24" oil on clayboard, 2014
Irene Hardwicke Olivieri

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