The next poem: 'Saturday in the Pool' is a kind of homage to Lowell who wrote a poem called 'Waking Early Sunday Morning', about war. So I moved it to Saturday which is when I tend to go swimming.

Saturday in the Pool

The boy pauses at the end of the diving board
then dives: a broad sword
cleaving the water – there is parting! And rejoining!
This is reflected back upon the ceiling
where, flippered, supine
– swimming in the cells
and water-pathways of ourselves –
we watch the gases breed: a fog of chlorine.

The boy pauses at the end of the diving board
Then dives: on board
The liberator, big-eyed airmen watch
as the cargo leaves the hatch:
the missile stabs the air
then impacts – megavolts
and gigawatts, primordial lightening bolts –
in whirlpool ripples: clouds of dust and vapour.

Saturday at the pool. A dozen forms
Push. Kick. Breathe. Push. Kick. Breathe. Turn
and bring themselves along the tepid length
and breadth of the translucent element
like frogmen. Bone
and blood. Four dozen limbs
– nurses, teachers, wives – civilians.
Push. Kick. Breathe. Push. Kick. Breathe. Turn

Outside our youth is laid about the park.
Planes thread the sky like needles. No attack,
presents itself. No dogfight
twists on above the level of the trees. A kite
is moored in the sky. It peers,
like the boy on the diving board, down upon the world
where we have crawled: we are raw-gilled
and live. The blood is banging in my ears.

'Saturday it the Pool' from Drives (Jonathan Cape, 2008), (c) Leontia Flynn 2008, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

The free tracks you can enjoy in the Poetry Archive are a selection of a poet’s work. Our catalogue store includes many more recordings which you can download to your device.