Humid Anxiety – A Poem By Carol J Forrester

The sign says no running, and the tiles are slick
with water sloshed up from bodies heaving
soaked costumes over the ceramic edge.
Blown out cheeks, red eyes, and tremble arms,
one bloke who kick off as if it will propel him up,
flailing mockery of a front crawl splattering
onto the pool edge where a teenage lifeguard
squeegees the flooded walkway back to damp,
yellow shirt a symbol that he’s been trained
to fetch a brick from the depths of the deep end.
Moves slow while his colleague plays cat’s cradle,
with the whistle roped around their neck,
discuss who will hose down the shower stalls,
since the pool is almost empty now,
apart from the elderly pair doing lengths,
and a girl bone dry in the changing room arch
telling herself to step out of the fringes
before the clock on the wall ticks along further
and the whistle is blown for the last call.

I chose option three for tonight’s poetics prompt, and incorporated the word fringe into my poem. I’ll admit to feeling a little apprehensive about posting, especially when one of my previous poems got a shout out in the prompt post, I felt as if I’d set a standard to live up to.


  1. Sorry, Carol, that I didn’t ask for your permission first before linking it to the prompt! I hope you will forgive me? I like how you constructed the atmosphere in this poem whose parts tick like clockwork. Especially like your description of the lifeguard:
    “yellow shirt a symbol that he’s been trained
    to fetch a brick from the depths of the deep end.”


  2. I could seefeel this one (Including smelling the chlorine) Carol, and could relate to the young lady’s reluctance to engage. Been there, done that. Nice capture of both physical and social fringe/edges.


  3. You have made me want to take the kids to the pool! You’ve captured the poolside ambience so perfectly here: I could smell the chlorine!


  4. You took me back with this poem, Carol, to a time when I loved swimming and diving. You painted the picture of the pool so well and evoked its atmosphere, especially the sloshing and heaving you get in busy baths. I remember fetching a brick from the depths of the deep end – not my favourite thing. The whistle has its own special reverberation. The girl in the changing room could be me after I nearly drowned.


  5. I love the atmosphere here… it’s been a long time since I went swimming in a pool and I can see all the mixed feelings of the visitors. Many years ago when I was in my late teens I went swimming for exercise until an elderly man started flirting heavily with me in the changing room…


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