How Memory Begins

by | Issue #6, Issues, Poetry

a lane rope rackets
across concrete.
a hook clangs
into place.

i drive past a school;
P.E. class in progress.
tunnel vision ball game.
your hand first to the wall.

your feet splatting
across pool deck
to claim the one shower
with decent water pressure.

always racing. whiff
of autumn’s cusp.
sitting in silence.
Dad’s staccato typing.

the drains’ held breath.
my heart rate slowed:
intermittent skitter.
hiss of steam

swirling into descending
night. the pool morphs:
a creature breathing,
its warmth a bubble over us.

old photos timestamped
with late departures.
blankets unspooled
to contain warmth.

in the morning
we roll them up.
i used to lay in wait
beneath, thinking up

things to boast
about. weaving
traffic. someone
cuts me off

at the rained on ramp.
how we celebrated
in my car. kids squeal
into shocks of cold water.



Svetlana Sterlin writes prose, poetry, and screenplays in Brisbane, Australia. A swimming coach and former swimmer, she is the founding editor of swim meet lit mag. Her writing placed in the 2023 Richell Prize and Queensland Young Writers Award and appears in Westerly, Island, the Australian Poetry Anthology, and elsewhere. More from Svet here: