Melanie McCabe: “The Night Divers”


Each night we dropped quarters for each other

into the shaking green light of the hotel pool,

testing our mettle and our lungs in the still

scary plunge into the deep end.  Less than an hour

from closing, we were often the only swimmers

in this abandoned world, all other children

out on the teeming boardwalk, appended

to a parent’s hand, or already bathed, pajama’d,

lulled in the laugh track of a sitcom, struggling

to stay awake through a flickering blue hypnosis.

My sister and I were proud rebels in our contrary

allegiance to this chlorine-scented center

of the earth, ringed by balconies draped in bright

beach towels, forsaken by those who chose

to confine their holidays to sunlight and hubbub.

If far-off we could hear the bells and cries

of Funland or the shrieks of teenagers chasing

the selves they were becoming faster than they knew,

that ruckus could be swallowed and expunged

by one dive into the water where bubbles

and our heartbeats were the only sounds that lasted.

I have no memory of being watched, though I suppose

we were.  What has stayed with me all these years later

is only our two bodies, pushing, kicking, again and again,

toward a bottom that was lit and well-marked, and then,

the quick pivot, the surge for air that we never doubted

would be awaiting us when we returned for it.

Melanie McCabe is an English and creative writing teacher in Arlington, Virginia. Her books of poetry are What The Neighbors Know, published by FutureCycle Press in 2014, and History of the Body, published by David Robert Books in 2012. McCabe’s poems have also appeared in Georgia Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Massachusetts Review, and Cincinnati Review, among other literary journals, as well as Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and in Best New Poets 2010.

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