Richard Latimer was featured in Exile‘s Spring 1989 issue. His poem, Swimming Lessons, is reprinted below.

Swimming Lessons

I was thinking of the ways that
we leave each other. Today I thought
of mornings, your back turned
against me in sleep, a shoulder arched
above white sheets, skin I felt
I was still part of. Nothing new here,
of course, except how light is always so
hesitant at six in the morning;
it stumbles into rooms; something like
the way we stumble out of sleep,
as if we were apologizing for our entrances.
But you were sure-footed in your sleep
and never apologized. I imagined you were
dreaming, a slow dream about the
roads outside of Jacksonville, where
the smell of paper mills and Florida
swampland drifts in and out of Gulf stations
and Publix supermarkets. Were you
dreaming that morning of hot pavement,
chewing gum, shopping carts? It’s hard
to tell sometimes. Last night I dreamt
of the cruel silences we impose on each other
as we consider our separate exits, of the woods
outside of Hastings, where the rain
was somehow the muffled sound of a piano
heard through thin walls. I dream like this
sometimes. It’s hard to understand. Years ago
my grandfather taught me that the art
of water was not learning how to swim,
but instead learning the best ways
not to drown. Sometimes when I hold you
I imagine that we are treading water together,
that somehow the motion of our bodies could bear us
upwards. Forgive me this, Kattrin.
I am always imagining things.

You can check out his poem (page 29) and the rest of the issue here!

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