Swimmers on the Shore

"Swimmers on the Shore" is a song by Lori Laitman setting a poem of David Mason. The song is published by Classical Vocal Repertoire.

The performers in the audio recording are Randall Scarlata, baritone, and Lori Laitman, piano. Used with the composer's permission.

Date: 2004Composer: Lori LaitmanText: David Mason

Print vitals & song text


Swimmers on the Shoret
Whidbey Island

by David Mason

Like half a filial circus act
splashing the Y pool shallow end,
I swam about my father, who could stand.
And when I climbed, an acrobat,
diving from his muscled shoulders,
they seemed as solid as two boulders.

Now I can hold his shrunken frame
in my arm’s compass. We’re together
on a park bench in lingering summer weather
before I make the long drive home.
But halfway through some story, speech
lies suddenly beyond his reach.

I see him cast for words, and fail.
Though talking never came with ease,
it is as if my father’s memories
dissolve in a cedar-darkened pool,
while I no longer am aware
which of us goes fishing there.

Has he begun the long swim out
toward silence that we all half-dread?
I hug my father’s shoulders, lean my head
closer to his, yet I cannot,
from his unfinished sentences,
quite fathom where or whom he is.

I want to stay. The day is warm,
the salt breeze blows across the Sound
long plaintive cries of seagulls sailing down
to hover over churning foam
there in the docking ferry’s wake.
I want to stay for my own sake,
holding the man who once held me
until I dove and splashed about.
He gives my hand a squeeze. There is no doubt,
despite his loss of memory,
and though the words could not be found,
it’s I who have begun to drown.



    Sheet Music

    Swimmers on the Shore

    Composer(s): Lori Laitman

    Song(s): David Mason

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

    Support us and help us grow

    Dear friends, Thank you for helping us build a comprehensive online archive of American song. Your gift is greatly appreciated.