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Now We Are 48

Dreamed 1991 by Laurel Blossom
www.laurelblossom.com

Katie jumped into the ocean blue.
She didn't know how to swim.
The water was murky. I couldn't see.
I was calling her name.

The water cleared. Of a swimming pool
She was lying in the deep deep end.
I held my breath. I dove straight down
To save my childhood friend.

The closer I got to the bottom
The more Katie looked like me.
I took her in my arms
And came back up quickly.

She opened her eyes and stretched and smiled
As I laid her out on the ground.
It's only a dream, she told me.
I never really drowned.

We jumped back into the ocean.
I taught her how to swim.
The seagulls squawked, the dolphins danced,
The world spilled over the brim.

That's the kind of dream I like. Logical, easy to interpret, no loose ends. I suppose, despite my intellectual pretensions and literary ambitions, that's the kind of poem I like too... Clarity of that kind is rare, however--at least for me.

--Laurel Blossom

Laurel Blossom is a poet (and swimmer) living in South Carolina. She's won fellowships from both the New York and the National Endowments for the Arts. Her work is more often free verse with adult concerns, but Now We Are 48 clearly riffs on A. E. Milne's book of children's poems, Now We Are Six, and the poem has that Milnean simplicity. But its themes matter to adults as well: getting in over your head, not knowing how to swim in "the deep deep end"--or aiding a friend, and finding out that act saved you, too.

So what does the dream say? Dream-Kathy spells it out: "I never really drowned." If the dream refers to real issues in Blossom's life--hitting 48?--isn't Kathy also saying "The feeling you're drowning, over your head, is just a feeling. We aren't six now. We're 48. We can swim in the deep end now. We can even teach others how."

--Chris Wayan



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