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New Poem by Jeffrey Wainwright

Eyewear is very pleased, as part of its 5th-birthday celebrations, to welcome a new poem by Jeffrey Wainwright. He is the author of many collections from Carcanet, including Selected Poems and Clarity or Death!, as well as the Routledge Poetry: The Basics (which I happily use for all my teaching).

Swimming Is The Answer

Swimming is the answer, notwithstanding Chairman Mao.
There, that strikes an attitude. What on earth
do I mean? Well, if water ever was our element
it is no longer, yet its foreignness feels welcoming.
It is the sense of suspension and of clothing
at its simplest and most complete.
Admittedly it is escape, nothing to do with here above
except for drawing off the empty air – and maybe
it is blameworthy to embrace such muffling,
such coddling, which brings me on to Chairman Mao,
the Great Unmuffler, Pilot of Reality
for whom the world was full of answers,
one such that swimming is resurrection:
‘You thought me dead? Look seven miles
down the Yangtse, pick the bones out of that.’
But did he swim or just float downstream?
Was that indeed his head singing? Hence the ‘notwithstanding’,
that and the bones.

poem by Jeffrey Wainwright


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