The Confessional “I Can’t Swim”

written by Selene Hofstetter. Selene (she/her) attends the University of California of Riverside in the United States. She is a fourth-year college student studying creative writing, focusing on poetry. She is a tribal member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs located in Central Oregon, United States. She is currently researching graduate schools in poetry as she finishes her Bachelor’s degree in May 2024. Some of her poems intertwine religious aspects (angels) into the ordinary and spiritual.

How can a person dive

into a blank, blinking eye

without assurance of life?

A lifeguard – is not your angel in red.

In a butt-tightening swimsuit

with three days of CPR training.

If you’re looking to be romantically saved:

We no longer do direct mouth-to-mouth.

Your chest cracks under the pressure of our hands

as we force life into a body

it has not yet left.

Do not look to us for leniency,

life is not guaranteed with swimming.

Death – drowning – takes you based on circumstance.

Not because an angel has decided

to check your name off a list

to decrease the human population 

for the greenhouse gases.

But because you decided to ignore

your passing confession

you personally revealed to your friend

while climbing the waterslide’s stairs.

Your lifeguard is not an omnipotent being.

When hands reach through wavering light

– an obscure, blurry figure coming into focus 

with arched wings encompassed by white,

and your body lies facedown – still

in a vacant, staring eye.

Your admittance before a drowning incident

helps no one

except give perspective,

as the angel takes your hand – takes you onward.

Far past the pool’s edge

of a lifeguard’s domain.

Image: Untitled 3 by Sarah McKernan

Sarah (she/her) is a photographer and videographer from Stamford CT, US, and works in this field for U.S. Air Force and as a Public Relations Officer for Plus Brand Industries. She loves taking landscape photography as her photos are from locations all around the U.S..