She signed me up
for swim lessons,
Pine Lakes Swim Club,
Saturday morning
instead of cleaning house
and other chores.
She drove me
past Bernice’s garden center,
past the old Acme,
and past the liquor store
where she bought
bottles of Thunderbird
in grassy-green bottles.

We called it a swim club,
but it was nothing more 
than a lake with a ring of sand,
and a couple of diving boards.
I was the oldest kid in the class,
conscious of my hand-me-down suit
tight around the legs,
which ballooned out like sausages, 
all pink and puffy,
and my curly hair stuffed
into a rubber bathing cap
barely able to contain it.

I really tried to listen to the instructor,
but all I could hear was my heart
breaking across the water
and the lapping of shame in my ears.