“What Can You Pen?” Poetry Honorable Mention

Aquaphiles
by Luke Moran

A rain of pool water smothers the grass
as the adults gather around umbrella­tents
to gulp down cocktails.

My foot is still cramped
from letting it linger on the metal ladder too long.
I gaze down at the growing mix of chlorine and chlorophyll
that settles in the lawn.

They want me to meet them on the other side,
the birthday boy and company, half with hair stained green
from too much exposure.

They’re starting pool games soon:
Dylan with his goggles askew,
and Alice says “Why not?”
and me, still clinging to the wall.

(I don’t answer, but rather
keep hold of the mental tether
that stops me from floating off into the deep end.)

Still, we’re all aquaphiles in a sense,
whether it’s want or need that guides us.
(A cocktail­mix of friends,
some risk of suffocation.)
A rush of fluid up the nose.

I sigh, and
involuntarily inhale
the essence of all being.

In this shelter of sociability,
dazed and invaded we learn
to love and fear
what we mostly are.

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