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Summer Family Vacation painting inspires poem by Miriam Sagan

Summer Family Vacation, 40" x 30" Oil on Canvas, inspired this poem by New Mexico poet Miriam Sagan as part of the Giving Voice to Image 6 exhibit at ViVO Contemporary. The show marks the 6th annual presentation of this popular event which joins poets and artists together in this unique collaboration.

Here is the poem created by Miriam Sagan:


Miriam Sagan

Barefoot on the hot cement

between the turquoise pool

and the ice cream stand

my scrawny seven year old self

with my small belly

pouched out

above the band of my bathing suit.

Suddenly I’m ringed

by the big kids, much

bigger than I am

mostly boys, one girl,

and they say

“let’s throw you

in the pool

and see if you can swim.”

I can swim,

I just don’t want to be


so I smile back

and mouth off

and say—“sure,

you can easily

toss me in

I’d never fight you

I’d never win.”

And for some

miraculous reason

this makes them laugh

and walk away.

No longer threatened

I just jump in myself

chlorine stinging my eyes

water up my nose

and do the dead man’s float,

beneath the rippled surface,

the legs of other swimmers,

I see the city

I’ve always known was there,

of coral towers

with pearl windows

house of peacock shimmer


with roof of oyster shell


It rises from the painted

bottom of the pool,

I’m careful

not to cut my foot

on its pagodas

as I dive deeper down,

then surface

holding a penny

plucked from the drain.

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