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.

from Drives (Jonathan Cape, 2008), © 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.