In Delaware when I was younger,
I met a man who claimed to have dipped a toe
in all the swimming pools of America.
He was handsome, and smiled like an astronaut,
so I swallowed every word he said.
That summer we sank beers with the jabbering vets
down at Famous Joe’s, and he shared tales
of every public bath south of Minnesota, including this beauty
from Tennessee shaped like a National guitar,
or how he’d paddled through the backyards of Florida
and left a fading trail of footprints,
dark and wet, on the sweet, sun-kissed steps
of a hundred lonely housewives.
Some of the boys cursed their purple hearts and wept.
Others peeled the labels from empty bottles,
stuttered a few words, laughed. And before he skipped town,
following rumours of a brand-new water park
near Big Bear Lake, West Virginia,
I saw one wasted soul, awkward on his stumps,
embrace him tenderly, like a brother.
Siegfried Baber was born in Devon. Since graduating with a degree in Creative Writing, he lives and works in Bath as a freelance writer and barman. His poetry has featured in Under The Radar, The Interpreter’s House, Butcher’s Dog Magazine, The Compass Magazine and Ink, Sweat and Tears, and as part of the Bath Literature Festival. His debut pamphlet When Love Came To The Cartoon Kid is published by Telltale Press, with its title poem nominated for the 2015 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.
Follow Siegfried on Twitter: @SiegfriedBaber