Swim for Life

Swim for Life

for Mary Fisher

Crowds throng the creaking boardwalk to sign up
to swim from Long Point back to Provincetown,
a fundraiser for AIDS and women’s groups.
Three seagulls levitate, then spiral down.
The atmosphere is festive, jovial,
a touch irreverent—we’re all still here,
the sun is glorious, and after all,
these aging men in Speedos bear the scars,
these women in their wetsuits just as brave.
Old disco anthems pulsate as they stretch
and limber up, the glittering of waves
that lap in time along the pebbled beach,
a drag queen’s overdone green eye shadow.
A stiff breeze riffles through the many names
on prayer ribbons draped above: “For Joe,”
I glimpse on one, “I miss you, Mary Jane”
entreats another. Soon, it’s time. I watch
the swimmers gather, board the launches, fade
to tiny dots, like drifts of stars just out of reach,
like friendships that were suddenly unmade,
like memories we never thought we’d have.
The ocean swallows them. We’re quiet, stunned
by what heroic acts can still achieve:
from death, reclaim what’s human, save what’s loved.