Swimming in Moonlight


a steady, rhythmic, watery meditation.

Words by: Adeline Carrie Koscher & illustration by Elizabeth Koscher

You call my bluff,
No one’s afraid of swimming.
Drowning, maybe. Not swimming.
You are right. I am released
by water – I become water,
freed from my solid self,
from this vessel for the soul.
It’s something else I’m afraid of.

At seven, I swam until bedtime.
At seventeen, I dove from the tip of summer,
as far into the center as my lungs would allow –
At twenty-seven, I began a slow crawl
from shore to shore – a steady, rhythmic,
watery meditation: stroke, stroke, breathe,
stroke, stroke, breathe. I have been
swimming across ever since.

There’s something else I’m afraid of.
Somewhere, between strokes and breaths,
snappers surfaced; fear dressed itself
in their ancient bodies. You say,
they don’t bother you in the water;
they hide. They snap on shore,
when vulnerable. Your eyes dilate
with the night; they hold me.

I am drawn to the water at midnight,
I take off the skin of the world,
walk into the pond, lighter than ever,
I see myself shimmering in blue –
moon and water and woman are one.
I slip under the surface, reemerge –
I never feel more beautiful
than when I’m swimming naked
in the moonlight.

You strip away my fear. It falls,
a silky puddle at my feet. I step
out, as if it never hung
on my shoulders. In this world,
some fear is good. It keeps us
from exposing our fleshy centre,
our soft belly. It protects us
from what would pierce us,
tear us open, leave us drowning.
I am drawn back to the water, night
after night, aching to swim longer,
stay later – less guarded every time,
diving blind into the mystery, surfacing
in watery radiance. Safe, free:
sometimes we sacrifice one
for the other. You bring me
into moonlight,
into the water.

Adeline Carrie Koscher crafts strange, little works of fiction and poetry as a conduit for wonder, solace, and vitality. When writing, she is the happiest person alive. Her poetry is suffused with that joy. She has been a featured poet on WCAI's Poetry Sunday. And in 2017 she was the regional winner of the Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Prize for her poem "Listening to Public Radio While Boiling Potatoes." Her writing can be found in Review Americana, The Lyon Review, Adana, Altered States, ninepatch, Zetetic, and Claudius Speaks. Her forthcoming chapbook of poetry, Liquid Song, published by Finishing Line Press, is anticipated in March 2020.