Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Belgian Swimming Pool

The vast room
resembles an American prison:
like “The Shawshank Redemption” (with water).
Three stories of small changing rooms
wrapping around three sides of the cavernous space.
Even my Dutch friend recognizes the architectural design
so often seen in movies-----
a strange association.

An American abroad,
I swim in my lane
only to realize that anyone can enter
and swim along with me;
We Americans don’t like to share---
We like to “own” our lane in the pool—if only for thirty minutes,
just as we own everything else that we touch
(or at least think we do).

I acquiesce to the cultural norm---
socialist swimming at the heart
of Europe’s geopolitical capital.

Meanwhile, rambunctious children carelessly
enter my lane.
I graze or bump into their gangly arms and legs
as I crawl (Australian-style),
half-blind behind foggy goggles
towards the shallow end
where I turn, and
continue my communal recreation.

A swimming pool
complete with a café (of course)
wood-paneling, beer, and marble-topped bar and tables---
comfortable, civilized, and thoughtful.

I could be converted---
I could give up my oh-so-American coveting
of this and of that;
“My lane” would become “our lane”
and we would revel
in the pleasures (and occasional discomfiture)
of expatriation.

(c) 2008 NurseKeith