"Baptism"

Written By

Linda A. Cronin

Three times a week, I come to the pool

at Childrenʼs Specialized Hospital to exercise.

Even in the middle of winter, the warm, moist air

reminds me of the humid days of summer. Since

Iʼm unable to descend the ladder or to walk on land,

when I am ready Pam transfers me to a stretcher

which is lifted out over the pool then lowered gently

into the water where Sue stands ready to release me.

I sink into the pool, warm as a bath, until only

my head remains above the surface, bobbing.

I relax, taking a deep breath. My arms rise,

levitate like a leaf in a pond,

lift from my sides where they hang,

waiting. My legs awaken, bend and straighten

with a freedom absent on land. Here,

in the water, gravity melts, releases

its pull on my limbs, no longer wrestling me

to the ground. The arthritis that greets me each day

frees me from its grip. Here, for thirty

minutes, Iʼm free to play with the other kids,

damaged like I am. Free to walk and swim.

To wave my arms and kick my legs without

the start and stop of pain, without the stutters

of bone catching on bone. The ghost of my past self

rediscovers motion, a sensation slipping farther

into the mist of yesterday. When the therapist

signals the sessionʼs end, I take a deep breath

then arch my back and dive under

the water, skim across the checkered tiles

of the pool floor, drinking in the freedom,

a balloon drifting in the breeze. I store

the sensation of floating where motion

does not equal pain. I want to drink

in this feeling, knowing it must last

until I am baptized again.

“Baptism” was first published in Linda A. Croninʼs new collection of poems, Dream Bones (WordTech Editions). She is a poet, editor and writer who often writes freelance articles on health and wellness for magazines. She has received a fellowship to the Vermont Studio Center. Her work has appeared in literary magazines such as The Paterson Literary Review, Wordgathering, The Journal of New Jersey Poets, The Healing Muse, Rattle, and Kaleidoscope. For more information on Linda and Dream Bones go to www.lindacronin.net.