Merna Dyer Skinner

Like a lover’s touch
we’ve yet to imagine—
the pool’s warm water glides
beneath our necks,
slides along our arms, brushes
our downy-haired thighs,
our feet flutter kicking
just enough to keep us afloat. 

You and I,
best friends,
partners in a summer swim class,
to submerge ourselves,
to innocently spread our legs
into a V shape above the waterline,
slip into our favorite move—
the rotating sea-plank. 

Floating, face-up,
head to feet,
you grab my ankles,
pull me forward—
as your body slips below mine
I pass over you, then catch
your ankles, guide
your body
over mine. 

Again, and again
we move over and under—
only a sliver of water between us,
only ankles and palms touching—

Initiates of intimacy,
that summer
we discover the heat of boys’
lips touching ours,
fumbling fingers
awakening self-consciousness,
compelling us to measure
breasts, calculate each other’s
hips-to-tits ratio. 

Never do we anticipate
how years will slide one
into another, how
we will glide past one another


how so many
men will pull us apart,
pass over us—
how our bond born from water,
a mooring of boat and anchor,
will link us always
—palms open

About the Author

Merna Dyer Skinner is a communications consultant and descendant of Quaker martyr Mary Barrett Dyer. Current and forthcoming poems appear in The Baltimore Review, Quartet, The Ekphrastic Review, Sulphur Surrealist Jungle (Featured Poet), among other journals, and three anthologies. Her chapbook, A Brief History of Two Aprons, was published in 2016 by Finishing Line Press. Merna is an alumna of Community of Writers and holds an MA in Communication Studies from Emerson College. She’s lived in six U.S. states and traveled to five continents.