Sacred Lake

(for Lucy Honeychurch and wild swimming)


When you were asked if you used to swim there, you said,

‘I bathed here too, ‘til I was found out…’  as if

untamed water was no place for a female, as though

nakedness wasn’t a woman’s uniform, they’d impose

until you were an ivory box packaged with string and given over

to a man who couldn’t feel water, didn’t want to –


Afterwards you’d learn to swim with and against it, shedding

boxes, paintings and buttons, floating a

line between naked and free, lying and

undoing the lying, un-painting

your gilded and cheek-chiselled mask, letting the

current move you to admission, as it does to me now


as I float on the Nene