Ativan Poem #8: Water Sports – Sara Eddy

We’re under water.
We play that game
where we hold each other’s shoulders
and you scream a sentence at me
while I try to guess your meaning.
I can’t understand a word you’re saying.
Your voice is echoey and dull;
It’s like the end of a game of phone tag.
I try to read your lips
but the water distorts them
and your lipgloss is caking:
you could be yelling anything.
Kids these days all wear goggles
pressed hard to their skulls
so their eyeballs pop.
Maybe it helps;
maybe they understand each other better.
In the end we crash to the surface
gasping and giggling
and I’m supposed to say back to you what you said.
But I make something up:
not even a guess–just an invention
I hope will impress you, make you laugh
because it is preposterous and clever.
And it works: you smile on me, and
we throw our bodies backward
taking the Nestea plunge.
But I know I’ve secretly failed
I know this means we can’t be friends
and next week you’ll be under water
with some other lithe girl
holding each other down.

Sara EddySara Eddy teaches composition and American Literature and tutors in the writing center at Smith college. She lives with her husband, two teenagers, an asshole cat, and 3 beehives, in Amherst, Massachusetts. She can be reached at