crawl up 1 crawl down
2 up 3 down 4 up 5 how
many minutes how fast the heart
rate down 6 the second hand do-si-do-ing with the minute
hand of the big wall clock the beat of the rock-a-billy on
the boom box up 7 breaststroke down 8
up 9 down 10 flip turn up 11
backstroke down 12 butterfly up 13 down
14 sidestroke 15 16 how long? long enough
next crop of legs dangling swinging impatient on
the ledge, lanes a blur up down up down bathing caps goggles
you know/don’t know men women counting strokes times
laps minutes days (how many this week) (not enough) hot pink/
slate black FitBits blinking/sleeping pulses (up, down) calories in out…
You know nothing about the people in these bodies. Only
their swimsuits, sliding jumping climbing getting in/out. You say hi
to the red bikini. To the floral board shorts. You/they hustle to the showers,
to the lockers, to the hairdryers. Presto! Ms Bikini perfect in Givency suiting.
Spiked Prada’s. Mr. Board Shorts casual Armani all the way. The stay-at homes,
the techies, the mommy/daddies, the laid-offs, the bigwigs, the retirees – headed out
in their yogapants grungy sneakers /crocs, toting their Lululemon/Nike/no-
name duffel bags off to the parking lot. Remotes awakening their shiny Masaratis
their slightly dented Kias, their ‘50’s Corvette convertibles, lovingly restored.
Their Honda minivans moving forward backing carefully anonymously into the world.
Up. Down. Up. Down. Again. Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Again.
Suffering, Medicalized (in the ER on a Friday night)
On a scale of 1 -10, where 1 is no pain and 10 is the worst you can imagine, how bad is your pain?
How would you describe it? Check two:
Two isn’t enough choices
Sorry, that’s all the computer gives you.
How is your mood? Remember, just check two:
Thank you. Take a seat in the waiting room, and fill out these other forms. The doctor will see you in order of the time of your arrival. Or maybe the nurse. Or maybe the intern. Someone, at any rate.
May I have your insurance card while you are working on the forms?
Oh – your card has expired. Come back when it has been corrected. The 800 number is on your old card. They open at 8 AM on Monday.
Goodbye, have a nice weekend.
Marian Kaplun Shapiro is the author of a professional book, Second Childhood (Norton, 1988), a poetry book, Players In The Dream, Dreamers In The Play (Plain View Press, 2007) and two chapbooks: Your Third Wish, (Finishing Line, 2007); and The End Of The World, Announced On Wednesday (Pudding House, 2007). A Quaker and a psychologist, her poetry often embeds the topics of peace and violence by addressing one within the context of the other. A resident of Lexington, she is a five-time Senior Poet Laureate of Massachusetts. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2012.