As ancient pilgrims sought to enter by
degrees to Paradise, we pull our chilled
and chastened bodies through rectangled sky-
reflecting, rope-divided water, called
from wall to wall by hope and counted laps
to thirty-six, a half a mile, or more,
depending on the breath, how many strokes
the heart decided that day to beat before
the final lap. For now, the white-walled pool
the blue-walled room suffice through goggled blur
and hyperventilated high to steal
away what else of earth we see or hear.
The soul seeks heaven, flies to higher air.
The swimmer crawls in water, finds it there.