Anna Swanson

Maybe a Body

You want to speak plainly.
To unbutton, unzipper. To step

out of one pant hole
& then the other.

Your words without pockets
or pleats. But you hoped

it would sound different.
You are tired. You have been tired

for on & on & you’re not sure
how to make it mean something.

You’re jealous of people
who sound like who they are.

You want to sound like that
too. If you knew

what you weren’t ready
to say, you’d say that.

You dive into the pond.
Someone lends you fruit inflatables

& you fall naked off pineapples
& large pitless peaches.

You float without a shell.
After, you sit still naked with friends,

not yet having solved
whatever you each don’t like

about yourself. Everyone
on that ice-smoothed rock

believes everyone else is perfect,
just not them. Maybe you want

beauty or a new form.
To unleash something.

Maybe a body
doesn’t need to be solved.

Maybe this is it, how the sun feels
everywhere, how you’re

never surface-to-surface
so completely as in the water,

the pond up every nerve.
The way you talk to each other,

after, skin still wet.
The warm wind. Thoughts

thawing into smaller
& smaller kernels,

from worthy
to brave to


Note: Excerpt from “The Garbage Poems.” All words in the poem (with the exception of title) transcribed from garbage found at Punch Bowl Pond, St. John’s, NL.


an image of Anna Swanson swimming in green/yellow water, in a black bathing suit and white goggles that cover the nose, looking up to look so as to be face-on to the camera, with both hands spread, and her legs and body floating behind.

Anna Swanson (she/her) is a writer and librarian living in St. John’s, NL/ Ktaqmkuk. Her writing is interested in themes of chronic illness, concussion, embodiment, identity, queerness, garbage, and survival joy. Her first book of poetry, The Nights Also (Tightrope Books, 2010), won the Gerald Lampert Award and a Lambda Literary Award. Her writing has appeared in various anthologies including In Fine Form: The Canadian Book of Form PoetryThe Best Canadian Poetry in English,  and Impact: Women Writing After Concussion. She also works with Riddle Fence as a poetry editor, and loves swimming outdoors in all seasons. For more about the Garbage Poems project, see: [provided with the poem “Maybe a Body”]

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