Gene Pool

They call it zero entry,
 the way the surround
  leans into the water
   and becomes the bottom
    of the pool, slowly angling
     deeper and deeper beneath
      the water’s surface. This way,
       toddlers can reverse their lives
        and, guided by their mothers, ease
         from dry land into a worldly womb
          as wet as the ones they left behind,
           though much colder. The soles
            of their feet scratch on no-slip floor
             as water climbs their ankles, then their
              knees, as they shriek random delight,
               as their mothers recognize each other
                from yesterday, the day before,
                 the day before and say hello
                  and chat about pre-school.
                   Just this morning someone asked me,
                    You don’t have kids, do you?
                     Didn’t you want them? One of the
                      moms tells her child to stop splashing
                       the other mom’s kid. That’s rude,
                        she says. Wide-eyed with their children
                         the moms explore the jungle gym,
                          their private island of giant plastic
                           lily pads dribbling water, magical
                            to someone who has never felt rain,
                             who doesn’t know pain is the floor
                              of the deep end slanting always
                               out of reach from your feet.
                                Snack time rolls around and
                                 they slope back to water’s edge
                                  and the toddlers shiver in the cold,
                                   even wrapped in towels and with
                                    their mother’s arms around them,
                                     and the mothers say Bye-bye and
                                      See you tomorrow
                                       to each other.
A Pushcart Prize nominee, Jennifer Hambrick is the author of the poetry collection Unscathed (NightBallet Press), nominated for the Ohioana Book Award.  She is a widely published poet, with hundreds of poems in literary journals, including Chiron Review, The American Journal of Poetry, The Santa Clara Review, The Main Street Rag, POEM, the major Japanese newspapers The Asahi Shimbun and The Mainichi, and others.  Jennifer Hambrick has received numerous awards and other recognitions for her poetry, including First Prize in the 2018 Haiku Society of America’s Haibun Contest, and from Tokyo’s NHK World TV, the Ohio Poetry Association, and others.  Jennifer Hambrick lives in Columbus, Ohio.  Her blog, Inner Voices, is at jenniferhambrick.com.