Poems That *NEED* To Be Read Poolside

Girl sitting by the pool using digital tablet at home
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People have really strong opinions about swimming pools, and it's true: there are some gross realities of these big water boxes invented by humans. (Squeamish readers, maybe don't Google further.) I grew up at swimming pools, though, and even my inner germophobe won't be deterred by the icky facts. I tell myself that the germs can't leap out of the water, anyhow, since what I really like about pools is all the summer beach reading that happens next to them.

I like the feeling of being on a lawn chair, even a crumby one. I like ignoring things like skin cancer and pretending I am, for a moment, invincible. I even like it when fellow sunbathers do what I think of as number one annoying--playing music on their phones, no headphone. I like the tinny, tiny stupid sound of pop music when it bounces off the cement and the chlorinated water and floats around the pool.

But the best is bringing a book to the pool, especially on a sunny day, when you're almost guaranteed to be lulled into a sort of heat coma. (That's a good thing.) The words drift around on the page, and reading becomes this sort of drippy, languid activity. And these seven poems happen to be thematically perf.

"Don't Let Me Be Wistful" by Dana Ward

The heat out there this evening
is contained heat like things keep applicable boxes
at the ready then subsume their diverging constituent parts

Click here to read.

"Tarantula on the Lifebuoy" by Thomas Lux

that you are good,
that you love them,
that you would save them again.

Click here to read.

"With Emma at the Ladies-Only Swimming Pond on Hampstead Heath" by Linda Gregerson

I did as I was told for once,
gave up
my map, let Emma lead us through the woods

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"Swimming for Jeni" by John Ridland

Today I took my body in its skin
And walked it to the noon-hour swimming pool

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"Salt" by Melissa Broder

I cut the old horizon
with a sword you have given and I gut the heavens
and bleed their light and swim in that.

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"skinny-dippin' in the gene pool" by Thulani Davis

the streets of hell are also paved
with fear of contagion
I have been swimming
in enough barbed-wire waters to know
you’re not even safe on the beach

Click here to read.

"Wingfoot Lake" by Rita Dove

On her 36th birthday, Thomas had shown her
her first swimming pool. It had been
his favorite color, exactly—just
so much of it, the swimmers’ white arms jutting
into the chevrons of high society.

Click here to read.