Poetry by Raine Geoghegan: A Rite of Passage, Summer of ’71

Poetry by Raine Geoghegan: A Rite of Passage, Summer of '71

A Rite of Passage, Summer of ’71

Lake Ontario,
a family barbeque.
Mungo Jerry sings, ‘In the Summertime’ on the transistor radio.
You are sixteen, needing space.
Your aunty asks if you want vegetarian sausages.
Declining, you walk to the edge of the lake.
Sunlight sizzles on the water as it laps against the shingle.

You step into it.
Closing your eyes and pushing forwards,
your body softens, yields to the current.
Lying on your back you allow the waves to carry you further
into the deep then drop until your head is below the surface.
You baptise yourself.
Small fish dart under your arms.
Sinking deeper, there is no sound, only peace.
A silent movie of your own making.

Your family are tucking into burgers and sausages.
Your sister is calling your name.
Aunty is on her feet, marching towards you.
You take a deep breath; fix a smile,
then just as you’re coming out of the water you hear
the whoop, whoop, whooping of the loons.

Shrugging your shoulders, you turn and glide back, singing: ‘In the summertime, when the weather is hot.’