The Old Municipal Pool
The boards of the bathhouse are rotten,
deep in leaves the pool’s cracked floor.
The town has changed and has forgotten.
Broken steps of iron ore
lead to a jungle of huge vines,
some hanging from a rusting tower
like a schoolgirl’s doodled lines.
The air is thick with what’s in flower.
The strange stillness recalls her name,
the empty desk in the next row,
how time had stuck in one scratched frame
now fifteen Decembers ago.
They’d found her dead in the deep water,
beaten, bruises on her throat,
a used-car salesman’s long-haired daughter.
I still have her last love note.
I wander into the green gloom
beneath the canopy of leaves,
as though back into that classroom.
She had worn jeans and flowing sleeves
and turned to me with dreamy smiles,
our steps echoing in the school
as mine do now on ruined tiles
of an enormous swimming pool
the years have left a ghostly place
of rust, a splintered bathhouse door,
in whose shadows there is no trace
of what I had come looking for.
– M. Flynn Ragland
Name: Michael Flynn Ragland
Location: Jacksonville, Texas
Influences: I like formal, rhyming poetry that communicates mood and image and is haunting. Typical of the poems I revisit and that have influenced my own writing are Longfellow’s “The Skeleton in Armor,” Tennyson’s “The Lotos-Eaters,” Browning’s “Porphyria’s Lover,” Kipling’s “Harp Song of the Dane Women,” Morris’s “The Haystack in the Floods,” Wilde’s “Impression du Matin,” Hopkins’ “Inversnaid,” Yeats’ “The Madness of King Goll,” Robinson’s “The Mill,”and Eliot’s “Preludes.”
Inspiration for this poem: In a deep ravine that runs along the western edge of Mansfield, Louisiana, there was a municipal pool that had been built in 1936 by the Works Progress Administration. The pool was 60 feet wide by 190 feet long. It was closed in the 1960’s. I remember it as overgrown with vines, the bathhouse rotting, the machinery rusting. In the last decade, that part of the ravine has been filled. Now a highway goes through there.
Website/contact: I can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3949789-m
Bio: Michael Flynn Ragland has lived in the Ozarks, the Appalachians, and on a barrier island. He has worked at a law office, a foundation, and a studio, and has taught English at high schools and universities. He enjoys writing short stories and sometimes dabbles in photography.
Copyright for the above poem and image remains the sole property of Michael Flynn Ragland.