Like a Manta Ray by James Tate
I can swim the length of the public pool
underwater. I like to swim right along the
bottom with my eyes open, and sometimes I find
things — a barrette, some change, a ring, a gold
chain, some plastic spacemen, a comb, nothing
too extraordinary. But this one day I was
swimming along and I spotted a pearl, and then
another and so on until I had both hands full
of pearls, real pearls. When I surfaced I
heard this darkly tanned, obviously wealthy woman
screaming at the pool attendant, “Someone has
stolen my pearls!” I quickly put the pearls inside
the netting of my swimming suit and climbed out
of the pool. I walked quickly toward the
dressing room, but then one pearl, then two, then
a third slipped out from my trunks and bounced
across the poolside toward a three-year-old boy
who had been listening to the lady with amusement.
He put his finger over his lips and smiled at me.
I had no use for the pearls and didn’t want them,
but somehow at that moment I didn’t want her
to have them anymore.
This poem was selected by Russell J. (Readers’ Services)