Hot Metal Bridge

Current Issue : Number Twenty-Five

Swimming in the Reservoir



The reservoir covered whole cities.
On some dirt road boys barreled in packs—wild-eyed,
stamping and spitting and kicking up dust,
speeding so fast they were already ghosts of themselves.
You could try to forbid something but they would only love it
harder for a No, and even harder for the danger. Coming-up-youth
taking bad corners so they were already ghosts of themselves.
Strutting and besting each other and talking loud, they shimmied
narrow chests under locked doors and over
wide wild fences, rose up out of the very dirt looking mean.
The black lake buried cities, but even after the Morrows’ boy died
there ice-skating they kept on, as if nothing was big
enough or bad enough, not even God
could take the love of a summer swimming
hole from these boys. Wasn’t it the very ocean?
Dares drove them deeper and deeper, and finally—
inky stones clutched to their chests—even deeper, kicking
for the bottom lungs upon lungs and air the scarcest and sweetest.
Water too cold and too black to be anything but the night sky,
they were fiery constellations in orbit together—stars who exist for love
of other stars. Didn’t they dream as they strove to the bottom.
In the dark, they hugged their rocks
as one body, and hurtled as one body, and felt
the Morrow boy caught, suspended in their midst
knocking along, furious, ice-bound and cold.
And how they burned savagely in protest
and kicked and strove even further
until the white-hot ore of their hearts
seared a brand into their flesh. They burst—
mortal and gasped and young—to the surface
burned, and the lake, unsullied and sleepy.

Katie Schmid is a second year student in the University of Wyoming’s Creative Writing MFA program. Her poem “Jobs” was selected for inclusion in Meridian‘s Best New Poets of 2009 anthology. She’s from Chicago.