Pick up noodles and Styrofoam weights,
And walk gingerly down the steps
Into Friday aqua power.
Early morning bodies follow the instructor.
Our feeble jumping jacks struggle
Against the warming water
While office buildings regard our labor.
The instructor demonstrates the bent-over row.
A classmate giggles, imagines bending roses.
Another in a shower cap sings, “Row, row,
Row your boat, gently down the stream.”
The tune interrupts our private banters.
In the resonant space, our babble disperses.
Confusion lifts. New voices catch on.
We look at ourselves grinning in pooled song.
Our rounds echo in the YMCA natatorium.
Hilarity takes over; splashing slows to a halt.
Singers look at each other,
Caught in shimmering music.
Before there was light, there was water.
Li Po’s spirit hovers over these waters.
“If life is but a dream,” he asked,
“Why toil and struggle?”
Born in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, Gaby is a professor at Eastern Kentucky University. When she is not assisting students write, produce plays, or edit their literary and arts journal, she enjoys singing. Along with poems and reviews in such magazines as Off the Coast and Poet Lore, her essays, translations, and interview appear in Diacritics, Critical Inquiry, and New Literary History.