Swimming with Angels by Anna Geary-Meyer
Can you swim with angels? I asked my mother once when I was eight, while she was busy washing dishes, and she said no, not usually, but down the canal there are some swans, I think. I don’t know what I was looking for besides that mid-air diving board feeling, that feeling of life without anchor, objective, but I know I’ve spent years swimming after it, swimming after swans and angels and trying to find something white besides clean teeth. And so I take myself out to the lake and though it is overcast and though I am hungover and half-kilter, something like ethanol or guilt metabolizing in my gut, I wade into the water with a yellow-brown smell in my nose while the lake closes around me like a church choir, filling my eyes and ears, and I throw my bra back to my towel and my feet sink in the mud and a silvery fish brushes my toe and my nipples get hard and I feel the cold and I am under. I am under. I kick, feet flexed, hair fanned out like a play-pretend mermaid, and open my eyes to a world full of shadows. I think about all the things I have done, all the things that make me clench my jaw and growl, and then I try to let them go, less like losing a napkin in the wind than like flushing a dead fish down the toilet. I surface. Triangular arms pull me to the middle and I float on my back for a while, thinking hey, this might be grace, if not for a few floating feathers and coagulated pollen suspended nearby, not quite white enough to call clean. But even dirty I am safe, the swans but not angels guarding me peripherally from their corners, unwished, unsummoned, unprayed to. I float a little longer, and when I get out I make a note to keep mistaking things for god.
In the shallow ebb
a feather drifts under, gone,
all that’s left behind.
Anna Geary-Meyer is a writer of poetry and fiction living in Berlin by way of Boston. Her work can be found or is forthcoming at the Olentangy Review, Slink Chunk Press, and the Transnational Queer Underground.