Home > Come Outside > The Bathers of the Ladies’ Pond

The Bathers of the Ladies’ Pond

January 26, 2007

Each day before they slip their frocks and stockings off
and naked, slide like knives through satin water,
one by one they shake the chestnut trees and wait
for any peeping Tom or Dick to drop like plums
and scamper bruised and red-faced through
the scratching hedge or squeeze their awkward
bodies out between the fence posts and the wire.

Then all the lazy sidestroke mornings drifting into
breaststroke afternoons, the ladies of the pond take turns
to sit out on the side and listen for a rustle in the shrubs,
a crack of twig, they keep a look out for a glimpse
of collar-white or toecap-brown. Then they take up their
handbag mirrors, flash the sunlight into prying eyes till
dazzled, blinded by the glare, the guilty lookers blunder off
and leg it to the heath.

by Susan Utting

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  1. January 26, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    Susan — this is stunning! It’s cinematic, reminding me of many films and also of the image I had in my head as a child, reading classical myths, of the naiads.

    Thank you.

  2. January 27, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    What wonderful imagery! I love the line “glimpse of collar-white or toecap-brown”

  3. A-M
    January 28, 2007 at 3:58 am

    I heard this singing in my head. I love the pounding, swimming rhythim, which makes it even more lively.

  4. January 30, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Oh! I can see this. A mixture of cinema, Cezanne and Renoir. And Hampstead Heath. Lovely.

  5. February 4, 2007 at 11:39 am

    Funny, I also had images from films come into my mind reading this. Sirens. It’s not just visual, though, it’s very sensual – whether sliding onto the satin water or scratched in the hedge. Very nice.

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