memory: a swimming meditation

the pool

I’ve been swimming in this pool almost every morning we’ve been here in Cerritos. In La Paz I swam in another pool, a rectangle, fringed with bougainvillea, and shaded with palms. When I swim, I think. I do laps, changing from one stroke to another every 3 or 4 laps. In the pool this morning, I swam clockwise and then counterclockwise. I was thinking about what we’d been talking about on the sunny terrace with our coffee. Mostly John and Peter were discussing family history–they share one set of grandparents; their parents were brother and sister. John had a very early memory of staying with the grandparents in Sheffield while his mother awaited the birth of his sister near London. What was your earliest memory, Peter asked me. I had two but one interested me the most because of its imagery. We were living in Matsqui. My father was stationed at the radar base there. The house we lived in was one of 10 built for military personnel and the row of houses backed onto a field which had a slough at one end. One day when I was 2, I watched my older brother walking across the field with something slung over his shoulder. Something. What was it? It was dark with mud and am I right in remembering it was strung with waterweed? As he got closer to our house, I realized he was bringing home my rocking horse, stolen from our porch months earlier. He’d found it in the slough. My memory of this is doubled. In the memory was also the earlier memory of my sadness at my rocking horse going missing and the recognition of it returning. I was 2.

In the pool shaped by the symbol of infinity, I was swimming in the moment and I was also thinking ahead to how I would remember the beauty of the water, Costa’s hummingbirds in the yellow throads of the palo de arco flowers around it, the soft sound of people talking under the palapa–the young man who just cleaned the pool, a woman passing. Not far away a dog was barking, dust from the tires of a truck approaching rising into the air, and the sound of the surf soft as a dream.

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