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The Dive
Rae Spencer


What is splash to the spectator
Elegant rip and lovely arc
And the hiss of bubbles rising

Is roar to the diver
Violent crash and sudden dark
The chaos of an unloving element
And the marvelous
Lyrical strain of body
Asserting its right of entry

The audience sees flight
Instead of gravity
The illusion of grace

In the tendon-taut
Wrench of the dive
All muscle and form
Bone and breath and certainty
The goal is met
Not in air

But in water
Where the diver’s mass
No longer discerns

Some divers have been lost
Have pushed deeper and deeper
Their affinity for surface
Though, given rein
Their flesh might have risen

Buoyed by its lighter resin
Which aches
To emerge

Sated and weary
In true grace
The gleaming self
May seem ungainly
After such a glorious fall

That lasted but a breath
Lovely arc and elegant rip
And the hiss of bubbles rising

by Rae Spencer.
Used with the author’s permission.

Rae Spencer writes poetry and fiction. For her, writing is a way to merge the fixed world of science and math with malleable inner realms of dream, memory, and imagination. Raised in Tennessee, she now makes her home in Virginia, where she is a member of the Albright Poets. Her poetry has been published in online and print journals, receiving Pushcart Prize nominations in 2009 and 2010. She can be found online at

Post New Comment:
Great fun. Rae's interest in science and math propels the poem into places that seldom gain the brilliance of poetry. I love 'The illusion of grace' her formal use of upper-case letters to emphasize the power of the line.
Posted 05/28/2011 10:24 AM
My daughter was a diver during high school, and the physics involved in her attaining the "perfect dive" would fill many books. Rae has captured the essence of diving in this poem and given the facts of the art form an emotional power. Great poem!
Posted 05/28/2011 07:21 AM

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