They are graceful as dancers in their purpose. I imagine aches and pains and stiffness are forgotten as the water cradles them, holds them buoyant. Their lower bodies waver in the water, strong legs that have carried them through their years; and their upper bodies wave this way and that, arms that carried babies or burdens, hands that stroked brows or clapped with happiness or held together in prayer for wishes that they never knew would come true, and perhaps some never did.
I watch them with envy. I want to project myself down in the water with them. I want to be a part of the Pool Ladies. Then I do imagine myself with them. I am wearing a bright red bathing suit, one I found at JC Penny’s on sale for twenty-nine ninety-nine. We are chatting and laughing and telling our stories. But, once we are down those stairs, once our dance begins, there is silence, only the sound of water gently lapping against our bodies disturbs the solemnity of the moment.
Finally, the Pool Ladies are done. They exit the water, chatting again like birds on a fence. Their faces are animated, full of high color. One by one, they disappear from my view. I miss them. I slow the treadmill and step off, make my way to the weight room. I hope to see one of the Pool Ladies, but, if I did, what would I say? They know all the secrets I am to find out, and those secrets are not mine to have, not yet. I know—“Thank you for reminding me what I have to look forward to.” That’s what I’d say.