A MULTIMEDIA DOCUMENTARY PROJECT ON THE MILLENNIAL GENERATION: THE LAST GENERATION TO REMEMBER A TIME WITHOUT THE INTERNET.
Katherine Robinson reads her poem, "Swimmer".
Original music by Christopher North.
I paint men swimming
and study the man posing,
naked, leaning as if to dive,
his back tense and motionless,
all movement distilled to potential,
which is distance— the space between
where you are and what you see.
When he leaves, I stand at the window.
He walks down the sidewalk; a felt hat,
tattered and gray, over his tidy hair,
his jacket flaring a little behind him.
The wind is low, it’s beginning to rain.
The sycamores rustle wind-worn
and half bare above him.
He rounds the corner and he’s gone.
I go back to the easel where I’ve painted
men diving, one body bent
over another, arching to water,
flailing against the jubilant waves.
They became the same as I worked,
the same man seen again and again,
the track of a body’s thrust
from dock to boat, a swimmer
becoming man after man,
motion tracked and seen,
each hand almost touching
the heels in front. They dive and rise,
shake cold water from their hair,
haul themselves into the boat,
which will leave soon,
while each of these men remains
in the purple waves, no matter
how far the boat takes the swimmer
into the slap and shock
of the open sea; this man stays
in all his faithless repetition,
the body of a lover
I’ll take over and over.
I first conceived the idea of writing “Swimmer” after seeing a picture of Mallory’s body preserved on Everest where he died in 1924. The body, discovered in 1999, remains hauntingly intact, and Mallory lies with his arms outstretched as if he were diving. His posture is eerily similar to that of Grant’s swimmers. I was intrigued by how this body had become, in some way, eternal— first because of a painting, then because of a mountain’s climate—and by how it keeps the same form in both manifestations.
Katherine Robinson grew up in Maryland, near Washington, DC. She graduated from Amherst College in 2008 with a BA in English. She is currently an MFA student at Johns Hopkins University, studying with Mary Jo Salter. Between degrees she worked at a wildlife sanctuary in the Shetland Islands and at the Folger Theater in Washington, DC.