diving board

Diving board

Photo: Markus Spiske

Photo: Markus Spiske


I remember jumping off the high diving board

Even climbing up there was kinda scary

The ladder smooth, shinysilver and solid yet somehow light and insubstantial like it was only a few degrees stronger than aluminium foil

Each step stippled with cheesegrater-style divots (not sharp)

The texture of the board: fine sandpaper, grainy, grippy, damp

The colour of the board: light blue

You knew what it looked like from below too – the simple framework of parallel lines, scalloped with rows of water drops

Climbing back down was not an option

Or rather, it was

But how clumsy you’d feel – an inversion of the natural order

Chest flooding with relief for one glorious moment before the tincture of stupid disappointment taints you, everyone can see it

But I was remembering jumping off!

Standing up there, the insubstantial board underneath you, nothing either side

An almost out-of-body sense of how small you looked. How small you actually were

I guess I was around nine or ten?

It’s quiet up there, although you can hear everything

The blue hum and splash of the municipal swim centre

Coaches below blow whistles over the lanes and call out “now six laps freestyle”

Above, on the high board, is your own little world

You’re a soloist; centre-stage

but no one’s watching, not really

OK – maybe that kid over there. No, he’s looked away.

You glance back to your brother, waiting his turn, shivering at the top of the ladder. “Go On!”

Warm flumes of chlorine fumes wafting around

A mysterious coldish breeze on your wet legs

So you jump and faaaallllll

The feeling of your body hurtling down through the air

It would pull your arms out unless you held them really firm by your sides or above your head

Airborne for only a few moments

Not especially graceful

Smacking into the water, feet first

Spa-effect of blue and white bubbles as you plunge down

No way would you hit the bottom

That diving pool was really deep

10 metres?

(The bottom of the pool angled steeply down from the lanes section

You could swim down and follow the slope – the water becoming deeper blue

I remember one time two guys in scuba gear sat on the bottom corner of the diving pool for a game of underwater chess

A stunt I guess. It was long before Youtube. But I digress…)

I did it, I jumped off that high board. And so did my brother James.

And now I see those same kids as us jumping of the high board at our local pool

They’re Swiss kids but it’s the same

One day my sons will want to do it too

They’ll know that fear-churned-with-excitement

And find out how it feels to climb the ladder and screw up your courage and walk out there and it seems so much higher than when you look up from pool level, oh-oh

How it feels to fall through the air and crack through that smooth palette of blue water

No way would they hit the bottom

And the sense of achievement: not maybe as amazing as you’d think, but you’ve done it

Perhaps one of them will ask me if I want jump too, or if I ever did? And I’ll say sure…

I remember


Today’s National/Global Poetry Writing Month prompt/challenge was to write a poem based on things you remember. Try to focus on specific details, and don’t worry about whether the memories are of important events, or are connected to each other.