Aqua Girl

by Sheila Hassell Hughes

Thrice weekly she descends
into the cool of green-blue
communal chlorine

Shedding  the street
clothes  that hug her
heavy frame and all the strands
of webbing that tie
her to husband, child, work
and world above

She dives deep below
the surface of her life
into a clarity of self
that awaits her coming

like the massive cats
perched patiently
in the window
bidding her return

She burrows
into a liquid warbling of light
that obscures
the edges and size of things
blurring all into color, motion
and luminous shape

Here, in the pool that becomes
every pool and lake and ocean
where she has ever swum

Here, with goggles, fins, and breath
after breath,  measured

like yard upon yard of silk
stretched out in turn
between the seamstress’s arms
then flung and floating
through the air

Here, she recreates herself

She is Aqua Girl
pure scales of light
slicing through the medium of her own

Swimming for her life 

Sheila Hassell Hughes is a writer, scholar, and teacher, currently serving as Chair of the Department of English at the University of Dayton. She has a BA (British Columbia) and MA (Toronto) in English and a PhD (Emory) in women's studies. She has published scholarly articles and poems in journals such as MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the U.S., SAIL: Studies in American Indian Literatures, African American Review, American Quarterly, Violence Against Women, Religion and Literature, Literature and Theology, MUSE, Phantom Kangaroo, and the Lullwater Review. Originally from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia (the fruit-basket of Canada), she now lives in academic exile with her husband and daughter in southwestern Ohio.

When asked to name her favourite fruit, Sheila replied as follows: "Having developed seasonal allergies to pollen and most fresh tree-fruits in my mid-teens (possibly from over-indulgence), I am delighted to have recently been able to eat some apples again. Thus, apples are my current favourite."

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