Poem | Brittany N. Krantz

The First Plunge
Photo Credits : Lee La

The First Plunge 

New neon suit stretched tightly across my torso,  
sticky hands gripping the ladder’s warm metal railing.
Sliding foot onto the ladder’s first step, 
heart feeling like it’s about to beat out of my chest. 

My seven-year-old body trembling, I climb the ladder 
to the unsteady rhythm of my intensifying pulse. 

First stepping onto the sandpaper-texture board, 
slowly beginning the descent outwards, 
like a ship’s prisoner about to walk the plank 
and plunge into the abysmal unknown.

Walk forward slowly, keeping eyes focused outward,
not once daring to look down.
Never. Look. Down.

Finally meeting my final destination of the board’s edge, 
toes dangle over like ten tiny monkeys hanging on for dear life.

Breathing deeply, I inhale the the aroma of chlorine, inflatable rubber, and coconut oil,
the unofficial scent combination indicative of summer’s long-awaited arrival. 

So easy to turn back, to climb down the ladder,
and pretend I don’t care about jumping. 
No. Not this year, which is MY year to make the transition
from kiddie pool to cool kid,
from sissified to sophisticated,
from cowardly to courageous.

Fists tight-knees bent-resist urge to count-inhale—
My knees straighten and my feet leave the rough textured board.

Reverberations of the board bouncing against the metal springs
confirm the reality of my decision—to jump!  
Speeding downward like a bird with no wings,
my body zoomed straight for the water’s surface. 


Shattering the water’s smooth surface,
continuing the descent down,
wondering if my feet will meet the surface bottom
of the pool’s deepest depths. 

Tap. There it is! 
Pushing off the submerged concrete the instant it meets my feet,
body shoots upward towards the water’s surface, 
like a recoiled spring—or a torpedo! flying into action.

Arms and legs flailing clumsily in uncoordinated unison,
a combination of movement chaos, 
the water’s surface—the finish line.

Bursting through the water’s surface,
I exhale strongly, 
filling my lungs with the victorious mixture of oxygen—
and years of long-awaited triumph.    

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