“Whale, Seahorse, Narwhal, and Crab” by Julia on D and M’s couch

Friday November 23, 2018
11:16pm
5 minutes
A Whale of a Tail!
Illustrated by Jo Moon

I’m in the ocean now and that’s where I live
Somewhere in between the deep and the light
Been working on my swimming so I’m finally better
I’m better

What’s her name used to say I swam like a fish but she was being nice and I think she said that about everyone
I couldn’t keep my head above water
I wept on the diving board while everyone inside the pool tried to cheer me on
I was always afraid of doing what other people were doing easily
I didn’t understand how to trust a thing bigger than me
I failed Yellow
The way some people fail their driver’s test
But when I passed it the next year I skipped ahead into Maroon
That made me feel like a real fish
What’s her name wrote it on my card again

“with one hundred hands each” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Thursday March 16, 2017
10:30pm
5 minutes
Age Of Bronze Betrayal
Eric Shanower


Stepping into the water
you aren’t sure if you’ve been
here before
Your twenties are a blur
One hundred hands reach out
to touch you and you close
your eyes because you aren’t
sure if this is ecstasy
or hell
Vic stands on the shore
cheering you on
even though you never
asked them to
There’s a sand bar that
stretches out really far
and when you turn back
to see Vic
they are smaller than a
lego man
Eventually there’s a drop off
and you dive under water
and you are flooded with
all the times you were
afraid

“our minds drift to the beach” by Julia at her dining table


Tuesday May 17, 2016
11:08pm
5 minutes
health.amhosp.org

I didn’t have my swimsuit. I purposely didn’t pack it because I didn’t want to be forced to wear it. Dale said that she wouldn’t swim either in solidarity but I didn’t want her pity as much as she was trying to be a good friend. I told her to go ahead, enjoy herself. I sat on the beach in light billowy pants and a white camisole. I could hear everyone laughing in the night, splashing in the ocean. Suddenly my head felt wet. I looked up and Terrence was standing there, dripping his salty midnight water all over me.

“Yes?” I looked up expectantly.
“Come in with us.”
“Nah, I don’t have my suit.” I said, shrugging my misfortune of an absent bikini.
“Come on, Leigh, that’s a sorry excuse. Didn’t you know that skin is waterproof?”

“what you can expect” by Sasha at Harvest Community Foods


Monday, January 18, 2016 at Harvest
5:32pm
5 minutes
from an e-mail

I wouldn’t say no to you becoming a seagull and riding a wind pattern West. Because that’s what you need. Because your wings are achy from underuse.

I would kiss your feathery cheek and whisper, “be safe.”

I would watch as a feather fell into the water and I would strip off my clothes and run in even though it’s cold out now and I would catch the feather in my teeth and carry it to shore.

I would wonder when I saw other seagulls in the weeks to follow if perhaps it was you or a new friend.

“Feed Your Family” by Sasha at W Cafe


Tuesday March 17, 2015 at W Cafe
10:10am
5 minutes
taste.com

At Ken and June’s wedding
I sweat through my red silk dress
Alexandra sang Unforgettable
and everyone jumped in the river between the
ceremony
and the
reception
The rocky bank speckled with lacy undies and
spotted boxer shorts
like trilliums

I found Jasmine crying in the outhouse and
I told her a joke about a mushroom
she laughed
and
snot bubbled from her nose
and we both laughed
and I only thought once about the time that she made me
get in the red
Honda Civic with her ex-boyfriend
after he’d been drinking

Henry and I danced
only to fast songs
June took off her high-heeled shoes and ran
bare-foot
through the vegetable garden
pulling up carrots and handfuls of
nasturtiums

“Welcome to Amsterdam” by Julia at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol


Thursday November 20, 2014
3:01pm
5 minutes
from a sign at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Because we couldn’t swim and we knew that we would have to. We knew that life wasn’t only on this side and to see any of the rest of it, we would have had to leave. To swim somewhere to get somewhere better than here. So we taught ourselves that summer. We took our turns failing and struggling. We never gave up. Because they were trying to keep us from trying. And they wanted us to have something less than they did. But we weren’t going to let them stop us. We wanted to be ready for when the time came to prove we could stay afloat.

“That really hurted!” by Julia at Gimli beach


Sunday, July 27, 2014
4:00pm
5 minutes
overheard at Gimli Beach


Well, I told him not to go into the water but he insisted. He was afraid of it for years so I guess I didn’t think I’d have to worry about it, then one day, or one instant, really, he got up the nerve, ran into the waves, and a big one came and smacked him in the belly.
Not life threatening stuff. He was fine in minutes, really. But he was shaken up for a bit, that’s for sure. He wouldn’t stop talking about how big it all felt. How he wasn’t sure if he could do it again today, but maybe the next time we came. I don’t know what changed his mind. Could have been just the ways of growing up-or it could have been that cute little thing who was playing with her dinosaur floaty. She might have lured him in with all her joy if I had to hazard a guess. I told him, Bobby, those waves are choppy do you see? Might not be the best for your first time so you have to be real careful. He said, Gramma, I know! I have two eyes in my head just like you do! Then he ran off and within seconds he was right back on the blanket with me rubbing his tummy.

“Fresh Bread” by Sasha at ideal coffee


Monday June 23, 2014
12:58pm at ideal coffee
5 minutes
the menu at ideal coffee

God, it makes me think about the air mattress that we used to use in the pool at Gramma’s place. Larry and I would take turns, each getting to play on it for fifteen minutes. Gramma would time on her gold watch. “SWITCH!” She’d call, and he’d roll off and I’d climb on, my polka dot bathing suit with the cut-out tummy giving me a wedgie. And then, when it was time to go in for supper, Larry would always get cold and Gramma would say, “Alex, deflate that air mattress, wouldya?” So I’d drag it out of the pool and I’d pull out the little plastic tab that kept all the air in. I’d lay, like a starfish, and close my eyes and listen to the whistle of the emptying… After a few minutes, I’d be on the tile, but there’d still be air in the corners, so I’d hop around until I could fold the thing up, until there was nothing left but rubber. “Careful not to drip in the foyer!” Gramma would call, so I’d wrap the mattress in my beach towel, a British flag.

“give oneself up to” by Sasha on her bed


Friday March 28, 2014
12:38pm
5 minutes
The Pocket Oxford Dictionary

It’s complicated. To talk about. It’s complicated because nothing worth anything isn’t. But, it’s simple, really, because everything is simple. Everything. I said, “Mom, let’s go to the pond. Let’s take a dip,” and she shook her head and then, a few minutes later, nodded. Like usual. She’s slow to open. She’s not a “yes”. She’s a “maybe”. And we go. In the station wagon. And I play her the songs I’m crushing on. And she bobs her head. She doesn’t say much. She does say, “I like this one,” and “You need a haircut”. We get to the pond and there’s no one else there. i’m happy. She knows what this means. “No bathing suits, mama!” I shout, stripping off my clothes and flinging them in the trunk. I dive into the water and wait to hear her splash a moment later. She doesn’t. “Mama?” I call, surfacing. She’s holding her cellphone. “What’re you doing?” I tread water. She looks confused. She’s pushing buttons. “I’m trying to take a damn picture,” she says and I laugh.

“intently and furiously” by Sasha on her couch


Thursday March 5, 2014
11:02pm
5 minutes
We Did
Brian Doyle


I will make you a pipe cleaner crown intently and furiously. You are a Queen and you deserve such a thing. I will use purple and green and bright gold. Purple and green, colours you love, and gold, to push your boundaries. You’re getting braver in your old age, with your colour accents and costume jewellery earrings. You will wear your pipe cleaner crown everywhere, even when you’re swimming laps at the pool, even when you’re at the green grocer picking cucumbers and fresh basil, even when you’re sleeping. People will finally pay you the respect you deserve. “Nice crown!” They will say. “What a beautiful headpiece!” They might call.

“For their swim records” by Julia at Cafe Uno


Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at Cafe Uno
4:55pm
5 minutes
Super Fish Thorpe
Kaci Tami


I failed swimming lessons when I was 7. Or 6. Or something dumb and young like that. I was told in my first year of lessons that I “Swam like a fish”. That was bullshit. Just something Keri, the swim instructor told all the stupid kids. Truth was I couldn’t grasp it. I would try to paddle like a dog and just end up swallowing too much water. I was afraid of everything, the diving board (even when I wasn’t on it), the stairs, the shallow end. Keri said I was doing fine, but there was something different about her tone. Maybe she knew I wasn’t teachable, even at 6. Or 7. My sister wasn’t doing that well in swimming class either, so guess what, I didn’t care to be that great either. I thought if I was supposed to excel at it, my sister would have already shown me how to do it. My sister is the smart one. She picks up things quick, like baking, or when we were kids, being a leader. I was always fine just tagging along and wearing what she was wearing. Not much for making decisions. I wish I could go back in time and re-learn how to learn because something is still wrong with me. I can swim to save my life, I guess, but that’s only because my aunt Kathy forced me to tread water for an unnatural amount of time because she knew I wouldn’t even know how many minutes had passed. I suppose that was a nice thing she did. Either way. Swimming is still bullshit.

“I spent decades awakening” by Sasha at the table at Knowlton Lake


Sunday, September 15, 2013
10:04am
5 minutes
Her Account Of Herself
Amy Gerstler


It’s like you re-learned your name. Now, when you say it, you claim it like a plot of land. You put your flag down and mark the territory as yours and only yours. Remember when you called yourself “stupid”? Remember when you looked at yourself in the mirror and you sucked in and pushed out and puckered and picked? Remember the sound your father makes when he sneezes, rattling the paintings on the wall? I was glad, when you breached for air, that your face wasn’t blue. I was glad you had colour, high in your cheeks, the colour of fruit salad. You’d been underwater for quite some time, so I wasn’t sure what it was all going to look like. You were stronger, your shoulders screaming “SWIMMER!”

The last time I saw you, you were wearing your flippers and goggles, your navy blue bathing suit, but you said you’d misplaced the mouthpiece, the scuba diving paraphernalia that would allow you to breathe down there, with the coral and the tiger-fish.

“RAIN (on someone’s statue)” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Thursday February 14, 2013
11:22am
5 minutes
The Vampire Cat
Robert Thomas Payne


Make believe that we’re swimming with big waves in the ocean, like the one in Florida, like the ocean near Grandpa’s condo, like those waves where I’m not scared and we’re just, like, floatinggggg. And then this fish swims by, a Nemo fish, but not low down, like, we can see him. And he says, “How’re you today, human beans?” And we laugh because, he’s, like, a funny little fishy! And we say, “We’re having a great time in Florida visiting our Grandpa! And our Mom in on a Christian Singles vacation in Miami! And we get to eat Honey Nut Cheerios for breakfast with Grandpa! And we don’t even barely ever miss our Mom!” The funny fish laughs because he totally understands what we’re talking about. And then, like, our legs get tired so we find a more shallow spot and we just, like, stand, and let then sand eat up our feet a bit. But not in a scary way? And then! Then! Then, it starts to rain. But it’s so warm out that we don’t even care and, like, we’re already wet, so it’s just fun to be in the rain. And then you start to sing that song about your “Bonny” and how she’s over the ocean and I even sing some because I know the words now from hearing you sing it so much.