Jared Leising: “Cleaning the Pool”

Cleaning the Pool

My son woke with
bites about his body—

small scarlet circles

we discover before
the morning swim

he plans to take

with his brother.
I make note to wash

his bedding, thinking

the thing that bit him
slept with him. As we

walk to the small pool

a man is cleaning it.
He tells us to wait

an extra half hour

before they splash
in the chemically blue

water below a condo

we’d rented in Manson.
Not to digest waffles;

their rectangular pool

had filled w/ash overnight
as the First Creek Fire

burned on the other side

of Lake Chelan.
The man uses a long net

to fish out Dalmation flecks

sprinkled across the surface.
Then he sprays green chairs

and tables, putting out whatever

is on them. While waiting to swim,
I try to find this fire that had been

watching us with one eye open

as we slept. Overhead, a helicopter
dangling a wet package coasts toward

the curtain of rosy smoke I can feel

in my throat. I follow it. But only
after spending the day submerged

and letting the simmer of a sun set

do I finally witness the flames
creeping down the bare ridge

like a red spider in the dark.

—Jared Leising

Used by permission of the author. Read more about Jared Leising.

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