Andrew Shields



Rhine Swim

When you slip into the river and float downstream,
first swim a little, then tread water
to keep your head in the air, then tip it back
and kick your legs up to the surface.

With your ears underwater, the world goes silent,
and if you close your eyes, all you are is floating.
Open them to see the sky in whatever colors,
and don’t ask them to stand for anything.

Whoever you’re with is whoever you’re with,
while so many others are before and after
those who are part of you. Everybody sees each other
in the current and on the shore that you begin

to head back to with a stroke across the stream
until first one foot and then the other finds
a rock and then sand and gravel to stand on
as your body emerges from the water like a body.


Andrew Shields is an American poet who lives in Basel, Switzerland, where he teaches at the University of Basel English Department. His collection Thomas Hardy Listens To Louis Armstrong was published by Eyewear in 2015, and he has also released two recordings with his band Human Shields, the album Somebody’s Hometown and the EP Défense de jouer. You can find him online on Facebook and Bandcamp.



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