Each year it got worse, cracks
along the concrete sunbathing area that had to be patched,

areas around the coping
darkened by mildew that, no matter how much he bleached

and scrubbed, had gone
black, decorative blue sunburst tiles edging above the water

line (and often below
after a hard rain) lifting and popping out here and there,
v and now the aggregate lining
beginning to degrade, patches across the bottom flaking off.

Thatís what happened
with these kind of pools; it was natural, but the Association

didnít like it though,
and heíd noticed this year, everyone was giving up a little:

nobody weeding around the flowers,
and crab grass growing up in a lot of the seams, especially around

the baby pool behind its fence.v That was the worst area, the lifeguards never closing the umbrellas

left splattered with bird crap,
parents leaving food under the tables, wet diapers, juice boxes.

The tile man dipped a cloth
in the pool and wiped it across a plastic table mottled with dried

ice cream. He yanked up
a snaking grass shoot and tossed it over the fence, then bent over

the shallow pool, still
as a mirror reflecting what seemed like a broken sky above him.

Laura McCullough's third collection of poems, SpeechActs, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press (2010). Her second collection of poems, What Men Want, is out February 1 from xoxox Press with blurbs by Hilda Raz, Denise Duhamel, and Kurt Brown. Her first, The Dancing Bear, debuted in 06 with jacket blurbs by Stephen Dunn, Li-young Lee, and BJ Ward. In 07, Mudlark published her chapbook of prose poems, Elephant Anger, and she won her second NJ State Arts Council Fellowship, this time in poetry; the first was in prose. She has an MFA in fiction from Goddard College. In 07, she attended the Summer Solstice Writers Conference, went to Bread Loaf again as part of the Social Staff, attended the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference and the Vermont Studio Center. Her work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Harpur Palate, Guernica, Crab Orchard Review, The Oklahoma Review, Perihelion, Anti-poetry, Tusculum Review, Hanging Loose, Pebble Lake Review, The Hiram Poetry Review, Gargoyle, Iron Horse Quarterly, The Hiss Quarterly, The Pedestal, The Potomac, Nimrod, Boulevard, Tattoo Highway, Gulf Coast, Hotel Amerika, Poetry East, The Portland Review, and others. Her book reviews have appeared in such places at Webdelsol Review of Books, The Potomac, and Small Spiral Notebook. Laura is a doctoral candidate in poetry at the University of Essex.

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