She started
taking small steps
that grew longer
until she reached the end
and bounced
her sleek body rising
as she arced
her arms outstretched
before slipping into the water.

Later she did the same
her hair loose
her body straight and slim
as she sprung from a ledge
floating above waves
for one second then two
before she splashed.

She was so free, her mother said.
And natural.
But I knew
it was the needles
and the beds she shared
with too many men
that made her so thin
and so yellow
the last day I saw her
by the lake.

Image credit:mauro paillex

Ann Kammerer lives near Chicago, and is a recent transplant from her home state of Michigan. Her short fiction and narrative poetry have appeared in several publications and anthologies, and her collections of narrative poetry include Yesterday's Playlist (Bottlecap Press 2023), Beaut (Kelsay Books 2024) and Friends Once There (Impspired, coming summer 2024). Visit annkammerer.com