Nightswimming

after R.E.M.

by Ben Norris

 

I ran to the bay
hard and long-spined
like someone was watching
a keen blade
through the beetroot streets
of a new place
hit the rails at the end of the fishing pier
did my best Titanic
eyes shut arms wide the figurehead
at the prow of the city

remembered my granddad
the non-swimmer
his sleepwalk down
to the sea one night
in Morecambe/Swansea/
somewhere

How he loosened a boat from the bayside
eased like the too-tight knot of a tie
from its moorings
rowed out into
a patient dawn his craft a finger
lightly pressed on the creaseless shirt
of the water

I imagined him coming to oddly calm
his hydrophobia a distant second to his reason
smiling the smile my mum sometimes says I have
noticing his raincoat buttoned perfectly
over his long johns and night vest
realising how little choice he had
to resurface there

I sucked back the Severn salt
drug for an inland man
tipped a wide-brimmed windswept smile downstream
gazed out towards Weston-super-Mare
ten miles to the south east
Latin America just a little beyond it
if I’d my father’s wrist for skimming stones
if I’d my mother’s hope
I thought and felt
my anchor fall

 

Ben Norris

Nightswimming by Ben Norris was shortlisted for the Poetry category of the Bare Fiction Prize 2015 and first appeared in Issue 8 of Bare Fiction Magazine (August 2016).