cheviot hills

chlorine is one of those smells
that reminds me of home
and the first time i tried to kill myself
how if you were one of those kids
and i was
whose parents dropped you off at the pool
because it was cheaper than summer camp
you know an indoor pool is one of those few comforts
that is the same in any country
those summers i hated the backstroke
because of the flip
turns and how water always ended
up my nose
but i was good at it
which is to say i was faster
than the other kids
so the coach made me swim it
i consistently won silver medals
i could never see past the mesh
lining of the red trunks
of john or rico the lifeguards
as they sat sometimes watching
from their tower
bussed in inner-city kids
who could not swim well
but dared each other to sneak into the deep
end without taking the swim test
or sometimes napping with
sunglasses on
i passed the swim test on my
first try
and i would tread the deep water
or cling to the cement ridge
as i looked up at the birds
in a red sky that i wanted so badly
to reveal themselves to me
one time a kid crapped
in the pool and it closed early
so i waited under a tree eating hotdogs
until someone picked me up
many hours later
the odd thing about the backstroke
is that you can partially hear the
noise from the surface
as you bob through the rhythm
in that way you knew someone
was always cheering
and because you could
not make out any voice well enough
you knew if you did not
look over to the other lanes
for that moment you were winning

Robby NadlerRobby Nadler is a baker for Independent Baking Co. in Athens, GA.