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 consciousness 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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