On Hampstead Heath in north London are three natural bathing ponds: one for men, one for women, and the third pond being mixed. This poem was written in 2007, as a response finally to be able to swim in the Ladies' pond.

Ladies' Pond, Late August

I float to watch the wisps of cloud
that mirror my randomness. Moorhens
bob on the sunflecked surface
nodding at my toes; a mallard
curves across the sky. This end
of the pond is quieter: those of us
who make it here find rest,
self-buoyant or gripping plastic rings.

I slow my thoughts, deep
as the spring which feeds this pool.
My lives uncoil, stretch, release.
This has been a long time coming.
The smell of algae lines the water;
inches above, the dusk folds inwards.
Old pond, hold me.
Sing your lullaby through me,
bathe me like your daughter.





© Rebecca Root 2007