There's a ghost in the natatorium.
I see him when I'm coasting before I tap the wall
and then turn around.
I never mastered the kick-turn
and see no reason to start now
as the ghost keeps pace.
In the blue light of my swimming goggles,
I imagine that it uses its legs a bit more and swings its waist,
so that its left arm doesn't overstretch for its counterstroke.
Surely the ghost doesn't take a breath with every stroke,
and never loses count of how many laps its done.
Yet, it never passes me, never seems anything but fixed.
I mark and think in this monotony,
this simple increased heart rate, moving muscles plunge.
Does it too have a roving, yet discrete lecherous eye and tries to check out every woman:
college freshmen to veteran faculty who stop and catch their breath before getting out?
No. I like to think that the ghost is focused, putting all its will into shedding pounds,
toning upper body muscles, and now I've forgotten what lap I'm on
and spend a half-a-lap trying to convince myself one way or another.
Counting laps is tedious, much like meditating,
only the stretch between one meditative breath and another is 50 meters.
And the ghost is matching me stroke for stroke.