Letter to my grandson (xxxxiii) Communion of the Water People

The Communion of the Water People takes a number of forms and can happen in many places. But it is always a silent and solitary experience. It is a special form of bliss found in water.

I remember my first time. It was at the long-gone Karori swimming pool.

My mother took me there when I was about your age. I still remember it.

I have taken you to the Richmond pool after Monday kinder twice now.  On both occasions, there has been no one else in the pool so we have been alone in the pool.

I sit on the steps of the pool and watch you.

You walk into the pool. You spread your arms and trail your fingertips across a surface of the water. Delicately.

The surface luminescent.  Everything silent.  You walk around tracing a large circle.  You come back to me and place both your feet in my hands so I can help you glide out into the centre of the pool  where you submerge.

There are shapes we can make in water. Today you will find some more of yours.

I sit and watch you. You do not need me to help you find your shapes. You find them on your own as you sink beneath the surface to explore.

Sometimes, you return to where I am sitting at the edge of the pool. You touch me and you’re gone. Sometimes you place your feet in my hands and then you glide off into the middle of the pool. It’s the shape of gliding. We both know that.

Later, you walk around pool singing to yourself, making incantations, telling stories. I do not know what these songs. incantations and stories are and you have not told me. They will remain a mystery forever, part of the Communion of the Water People.

Even later, kids will arrive, will be jumping and splashing, wrestling, fun, you will be in your element.

I will watch you as you trade your diving sharks for some toys you covet.

I marvel at you. It took you about a minute to affect the negotiation with the kids who must’ve been at least a year older than you. I watched their father who couldn’t believe his eyes as this little three-year-old talked his children out of the toys they had brought to the swimming pool.   It looked as if you then explained to him how you did it because he shrieked with laughter.  Marvellous stuff.

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