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Nightswimmer Junior Struggles in Green Bay

Great swim, but then a storm rolled in.
N.J. was unprepared, caught out
between the Stonington lighthouse
and Washington Island, Wisconsin,
the gate of Green Bay. Nightswimmer Junior,
then just thirty-two, wondered:
was it almost over? She was threshed
in shifting haystack waves,
spun like laundry ‘til she lost her heading.
But not her head. Drifted where the lake took her,
focusing remaining strength on the float,
on timing breath. Instinct and/or ingrained training
kept her keepin’ on. Willed her limbs
the necessary moves to maintain life,
if not control heading. She pushed through.
N.J.’s feet touched bottom at St. Martin Island,
though then semi-conscious, she didn’t know
which place it was, besides a solid spot on Earth.
It was a good day to have a busy-body buddy
like Nightswimmer in his old age,
who was supposed to leave her
to this solo swim, but broke
the small-craft hazard ban. Motored along.
She slept two days, went back to work.
N.J. didn’t mention that swim or the fear of dying
in the water to neighbors, to her fellow pub-tenders.
We don’t know how much we don’t know
about what drives those we live among.


Todd Mercer was nominated for Best of the Net in 2018. Mercer won 1st, 2nd & 3rd place of the Kent County Dyer-Ives Poetry Prizes and the won Grand Rapids Festival Flash Fiction Prize. His chapbook Life-wish Maintenance is posted at Right Hand Pointing. Recent work appears in: Down in the Dirt, The Drabble, The Lake and Softblow.

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