“In the Dream-Pool” by Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco

Ekphrastic Challenge, September 2020: Editor’s Choice


Painting women lounging and swimming in a pool in the head of a bluish figure

Image: “Pool Head” by Pat Singer. “In the Dream-Pool” was written by Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, September 2020, and selected as the Editor’s Choice.

[download: PDF / JPG]


Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco


All summer long,
the pool was closed,
and I swam

Glimpses of aqua
through a fence.

A neighbor’s

Mouthwash blue.

The thing with dream-pools is
you never get to swim.

The thing with dream-pools is
they all mean something else.

When summer ended, the need passed
like an old pet, drifting
somewhere, like the wildfire smoke, or souls.

I thought of towels I’d sewed my name on,
how they one time seemed important.

In a dream-pool, I am floating,
silent blue in sheets around me.

In a dream-pool I am safe,
cleansed of whatever

came in with me,
my skin tight.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
September 2020, Editor’s Choice


Comment from the Editor, Timothy Green: “Interestingly, both this poem and the artist’s choice throb with the losses of the pandemic while looking through a fence that isn’t in the painting. In this case, the closing of the summer pool becomes a kind of obsession, haunting in its absence, as so many things are. There are so many memorable lines here: ‘The thing with dream-pools is / you never get to swim.’ That will stick with me.”

Rattle Logo