The change room

This morning, walking almost naked
from the change room toward the outdoor heated pool,
I become that man again, unsettling

shape to be explained.
Such questions aren’t asked to my face. Children
don’t mean anything by it, supposedly, so I

shouldn’t feel as I do,
as my bones crouch into an old shame I thought
I’d left behind. Chlorine prickling

my nostrils, a stranger
compliments me on my tattoos and shows me hers –
a dove in flight over a green peace sign –

as if the canvas was unremarkable.
She turns and limps away,
and something makes a moment of sense.

I lower myself into our element
and swim, naturally
asymmetrical and buoyant. Quite some time

later, showering, the man beside me
is keen to chat – how many laps we’ve each done,
how long I’ve lived in this town, the deep

need for movement.
Speaking, our bodies become solid.

“The change room” from Human Looking by Andy Jackson. Used with permission of the publisher, Giramondo Publishing. All rights reserved.