I swim again.
The water is thick; I have to crawl through it. I emerge coated in chlorine, rinse thinning hair in treated water. It’s straw and stress, yet pool bound it floats elegant in the eerie suspension of underwater.
Back in the sun I run my hands through the brittle strands, air the stubble underneath. Temporary construction walls form a wind tunnel but the air is warm and poolwater evaporates off my skin to keep me cool. I walk over the unused bike lane past the tram skeleton, balance toe to heel on the raised curb sink into sidewalks made of sand.
They say there's no history, no soul. They speak of sand, breathe stale air, build grandiose testaments to its roses instead.
In the seasons I walked down Spring Street with shoulders in my ears. Lungs would seize, my shoulders freeze, tension twisted my body for months. I walk with palms out here, I walk tall I walk with my heart forward.
They hate it, they burn, break out and sweat seeps through their backs. They faint and falter I try to relate and feel false. I need to be told when it's sweltering, reminded that outside turns me tired and thirsty because inside is cold and recycled.
Outside is a kiln and enamel hardens on my skin. I’m turning unexpected colors and patterns crystalize when I'm exposed to oxygen. I shine through where the glaze was thin, form swirling patterns in the pools. I burrow into the thick, torrid air, match the temperature to my breath.
My shoulders are slowly sliding out of their cold hunch as I stand straight to meet the sky.
Elusive, I assume, to those building space palaces from the west. I don't have the skin for it, not the thick hair dark eyes but I swear I see hints of Coastal and Bedouin dynasty in the suffocating breeze, in evening humidity covered heads and sticky legs. I stand on it, I breath it in, I draw my name in Arabic in the dust. There’s sand and sun and if I peel away layers of fake grass I see soul.