Budapest Swimming Pool

It was 92 degrees, second day of our trip. You ordered

our admission in German and we separated

to change into swimsuits. On the ladies' side,

the square, muscled woman—every movie's ballbusting

psych ward nurse—glanced at my white ticket

and pointed her thick finger to a certain door. It led

to the rooftop, but you were nowhere

among the hundreds of splashing bathers.

Terror closed down my throat

like a defunct automobile factory. I retreated

into the changing room and again the muscular aide

pointed me outside; the syllables of her scolding

waddled through my ears like a brown bear

heavy on its haunches. There was no option

except to hide. I waited until the gatekeeper

turned to fold towels and then, sweating like a spy

on her first mission, I slipped through a narrow opening

between two identical grey walls and saw

you, peacefully swimming laps in the indoor pool.

I shook. I couldn't even call your name.

A sob escaped my chest and you recognized it

like a secret handshake. Your shoulders bobbed up

as I put my hand to my heart. You turned

toward me, pulled yourself out of the water,

and embraced me with both arms. Laced

your fingers through my hair. Assured me

over and over that nothing could separate us.