Poetry Friday: Banishing Expectations

swimming with a buoy

My husband is trying to teach me to swim this year. I’ve never liked swimming. I think I was traumatized in middle school during swimming lessons with water up my nose and a stolen swim suit. Regardless, I’m determined to test my edges this year, and say yes to the things I’ve most often avoided. Swimming is one of those things.

Yesterday was my 10th visit to the pool with my husband. I was able to swim an entire lap (50 yards) of the American crawl. . . with a buoy between my legs to keep me afloat and allow me to focus on my breathing. My husband, who swam in high school and college, hailed this as progress.

The moment begged to be a poem to document the event.

Scaffolding ~

She began her quest of 1000 yards
of the American crawl
or front crawl as originated 
by Ojibwa swimmers
named Flying Gull and Tobacco
some time in the early 1800's.

Tending to her breath
arms and legs neglected
her body sank
like a ship with too much cargo
a buoy placed between her thighs 
supported her to the end

You're doing it hon, he cheered.
You're actually swimming!
Applauding her progress, 
a beaming smile admired her
yet. . . 

she resisted - shaking her head.

It's like cheating, she degraded herself
Needing a device to keep me afloat?
I should not need this extra help.
The yards do not count. 
They are cheapened.

Yes, they do count, he assured her pride
I count my yards swimming with buoys and boards.

You do? she questioned her All American Swimmer.
I didn't know. . . 

Who do I think I am? her expectations chased away
by the sword of the teacher.
8 tons of cargo
lifted from her drowning ship.

Shari Daniels; draft 2022

I’m taking part in Poetry Friday this year and if you’d like to join us and add your poem, head over to Carol’s site at Literacy Link and join us! Or, you might just like to grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the poems that others have shared there.

Whatever you decide, I hope you are safe and warm today. Take tender care of yourself and those you love.

8 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Banishing Expectations

  1. Oh I love this so much!! Good for you for pushing your edges! So healthy. Let me tell you a little funny. Who knew that having extra weight makes you buoyant as heck! Bless you. Let’s zoom soon! You have been on my mind!!

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. This is lovely for so many reasons: 1. you showcased the sheer rawness of human vulnerability, you know, once we strip ourselves of everything except our soul in the face of weakness 2. the acknowledgment of the crazy expectations we place upon ourselves (that awareness only comes from some crazy-mad personal growth, good for you, Shari) 3. How in the heck are you able to put every dang experience into a poetic drug? I am so addicted to your poetry. Love you. – Joy


  3. Hooray! I’ve been swimming for exercise as well after many, many, MANY years of not swimming. My form is bad, breathing bad…this week of snow days my attendance has been bad. And, when I do swim, it’s a messy, crooked kind of progress. But, I remind myself that getting in the pool, swimming a lap is success. I count the laps with a kick board! Every other lap is a kick-board lap for me as I build endurance. You can do it! And, you can count those laps!


  4. Susan, I am impressed with your perseverance and your poem that champions your willingness to become a swimmer. My new community has an indoor and outdoor pool with an aqua fitness program. My friends keep enticing me to join in. Maybe you gave me the push to do so. Thanks for sharing your new experience with a poem and illustration.


  5. Nice to meet you, Shari! My spouse also did not learn to swim comfortably as a kid, and every summer we begin our lessons anew. She doesn’t really want to GO anywhere, just not to panic about putting her face in. I hope this year I’ll find the right words to lift tons of cargo from her ship. I love your cartoon.


  6. Hi Shari, sending the proudest hugs for this new challenge of the “edges” you’re taking on. It reminds me of an assistant I had years ago who never had roller-skating. He was willing to try & had many hands applauding from the middle-graders. What a life lesson he taught them! How wonderful that you have a husband cheerleader, too.


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