Don't Tell Anyone
We had been married for six or seven years
when my wife, standing in the kitchen one afternoon, told me
that she screams underwater when she swims—
that, in fact, she has been screaming for years
into the blue chlorinated water of the community pool
where she does laps every other day.
Buttering her toast, not as if she had been
not as if I should consider myself
personally the cause of her screaming,
nor as if we should perform an act of therapy
right that minute on the kitchen table,
—casually, she told me,
and I could see her turn her square face up
to take a gulp of oxygen,
then down again into the cold wet mask of the unconscious.
For all I know, maybe everyone is screaming
as they go through life, silently,
politely keeping the big secret
that it is not all fun
to be ripped by the crooked beak
of something called psychology,
to be dipped down
again and again into time;
that the truest, most intimate
pleasure you can sometimes find
is the wet kiss
of your own pain.
There goes Kath, at one PM, to swim her twenty-two laps
back and forth in the community pool;
—what discipline she has!
Twenty-two laps like twenty-two pages,
that will never be read by anyone.
by Tony Hoagland
from Poetry, Vol. 200, No. 4,