Two hundred summer dips

For Paul B, JD, LM, the Willi Dolphins…

Not that anyone was counting
or taking notes.

Mid December to mid April
Twice a day, give or take.
(Thrice once. Early January.)

Williamstown, kiosk end
Williamstown, pipe end
Stewart Street
Forster Street

The crystals’ concrete steps
The crystals’ handrail steps
The crystals’ western corner

The marine sanctuary
as much as possible.
No cars, no cafes, no crowds.
(Well, not yet. The word is out, though.)

The sanctuary for
the solitude
the rocks
the rays
the urchins
the shells
the jellyfish
the seastars
the ugly globefish
the hidden flathead
the spotted toadfish
the young salmon
the zebra fish
the pelicans
the black swans
the horizon
the safety of
the shallowness
the lone turtle
the sea grasses
the salty lettuce
the Neptune necklace
the snails and their tracks
at low tide

Moggs Creek on the ocean road
for the waves
the undertow
the history
the danger
the expanse of
sand and
water and

(Fifty years since Mum and Dad
built the little log cabin.)

Port Campbell
Where a local said
“Try Martyr’s Bay.”
I didn’t last long.
But longer than those
in the 19th century

where the plague
of lion’s mane jellyfish
was offset by
the rite of passage bravado
of teenagers jumping off the jetty.

Never really swimming.
Still can’t get the rhythm right.

Snorkelling at the suburban beach
Flippers in the bike’s panniers
Earplugs in my pocket
Tried the old wetsuit twice
It’s seen better days
When its arms were not
Torn and frayed
The left sleeve
longer than
the right

Just a pair of togs
And the water
the water
the water
A second skin
Slipping over me
Sliding around me
Caressing and curing
Cooling –
Not that it was a hot summer.

Watching real swimmers
Real breathing
No plastic apparatus
No lifeline
No training wheels
Swimming further in an hour
Than I in a summer
Swimming away, away, away
Til they seem to disappear

I keep clear
of the divers
and their spearguns and knives

Of the dogs
and their salivated tennis balls

Of the tourists
Paying brief visits
Wearing ever briefer swimsuits

“Eyes on the water,” I tell myself.
“Eyes on the water.”

Just step in
Crease the sea
Float don’t flail
Arms over and over

Earplugs in
I hear
Sparkling, crackling
Some oceanic, acoustic trick
An aquatic morse-code

Swimming those fine lines
and isolation


rocks and snorkelling gear


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