Volunteer Swim coach: A Tribute

By Michael O. Zahn

He walks with two canes,
he’s fragile and fat,
the kids on the team
lug his extra-wide chair,
gently help him sit back.

But his voice still has sinew,
he bellows tough drills.
With sandpaper words
he strives to propel
even the slackers,
to make all excel.

Once, long ago,
he was slim and swam swift.
An Adonis in butterfly,
flaunting gods’ gift!
The water was whipped
by his lunges and plunges!
Sprays of ribbons
were showered by judges.

Ribbons fray.
Butterflies die.
Bodies betray.
The gods can deny.

What’s left of Adonis
you’ll find at the pool
in his extra-wide chair,
a pain-drenched old grandpa
who’s fighting despair
by bequeathing his dreams
to the ripening teens
on the high-school swim team.