This week’s poem takes us into the cool of a lake on a scorching day, and also into the body of an aging man, who struggles to find his old surety of form in the water. In Ken Craft’s “Core Body Temperature,” I love the intimacy of the second-person “you,” the visceral description of bodies trying their utmost, and the poem’s beautifully enveloping final image.

Ken Craft’s poems have appeared in The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, One, South Florida Poetry Journal, Pedestal Magazine and numerous other journals and e-zines. A resident of Wells, he is the author of two collections of poetry, “Lost Sherpa of Happiness” (Kelsay Books) and “The Indifferent World” (FutureCycle Press). His third collection, “Reincarnation & Other Stimulants,” will be published this year.

Core Body Temperature

by Ken Craft

You, the former waterskiing champion of Maine,
wanting, one last time, to immerse yourself in the lake
on this 90-degree day in the arms of a son
who struggles under the weight of your bloated body.
Your skin frogs across the cradle of the boy’s biceps
as he fights gravity and sweat, walks robotically,
releases you in three feet of water so you can kneel
in muck. You move your eyes behind sunglasses
as if searching for lost years hidden in the shoreline’s shade.
Soon you’re in teaching form again, explaining the science
of lowering core body temperatures, how it happens
when you submerge in cool water long enough,
how it’s an old Army trick borrowed from an old Indian one.
Remember that, you tell your son, as the soft marl
of the lake bottom shifts, rising from under your knees,
beginning to trust them.

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Core Body Temperature,” copyright 2021 by Ken Craft, is forthcoming from “Reincarnation & Other Stimulants” (Kelsay Books). It appears by permission of the author.

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