Henri Matisse The Swimming Pool
Never mind the oldest and the youngest. In the pool we are all the strongest. Our lane mate, Ann, turned eighty yesterday. Our pool sleeps under covers in the dark and on most mornings, Ann wakes up before the birds to lift and reel the heavy bedspread on a spool. At 5:45, it's always our turn to play! We show up like an army, thirty or forty of us to break the glitter she has uncovered, to splash and puff and shiver and swing our arms, to leave our rigid selves on land and watch the first, small, pink clouds sail above.
For years we've watched and learned from Ann's long, beautiful stroke, her razor sharp flip turn, the ear to ear smile and praise she lavishes on us when we've shaved a second off our interval. If I've arrived early enough to watch her take aim and jump in the pool, I'm reminded of hopping into fountains as a child and the defiant whoop whooping, I am the life in the fountain! Catch me if you can!
This morning she swam beneath a canopy of balloons tied to a vase of flowers from Karen's garden. There goes joy in the water, I thought.
Happy Birthday Ann.