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Ellen Pickus


Swim Ghazal

            For my father and my brother


Surrounded by a sun-warmed inner tube,

his hand on my waist,

I learned from my father how to swim.


When I’m in my element, my head

pillowed by water, why make haste?

I seek calm waters when I swim.


I floated lazily staring at clouds

 while my brother the athlete raced.

Each to their own, however you swim.


I wait till our part of the Earth here

in the northeast has faced

the sun, when fevered air makes me long for a swim.


I’d never go when slush blocks roads

and bare branches are ice-encased,

but my brother will never give up a chance to swim.


When school books went back on shelves

and exams ended, mostly aced,

two months of blue heavens when we could swim.


Take all you want, but eat all you take.

My father lectured on waste

and barbecued after we’d taken a swim.


God bless the memory of the father who laced

my first ice skates in one season

 and, in another, taught me to swim.

About Ellen Pickus

Ellen Pickus taught English and creative writing for thirty years on Long Island, where she lives with her husband and her son. Retired, she now conducts creative writing workshops for adults and does volunteer work at an elementary school. The topics of her poems range from summers spent in the Catskills to the joys and challenges of raising a special needs child. Her first book of poems, Unbroken Promises, was self-published and sold for Alzheimer’s research. Her work has appeared in the Long Island Quarterly, PPA Review, Fan Magazine, Midwest Poetry Review, Paws and Tales and Candlelight. She received awards at poetry contests run by Peninsula Public Library, one judged by Naomi Lazard and one by James Reiss. She won first place at the Rockville Centre Guild for the Arts and also at the Plainview Y. See Poets & Writers