The Pool

By Robert Creeley 1926–2005 Robert Creeley
My embarrassment at his nakedness,   
at the pool’s edge,
and my wife, with his,
standing, watching—

this was a freedom   
not given me who am   
more naked,
less contained

by my own white flesh
and the ability   
to take quietly   
what comes to me.

The sense of myself   
separate, grew
a white mirror
in the quiet water

he breaks with his hands   
and feet, kicking,
pulls up to land
on the edge by the feet

of these women   
who must know   
that for each
man is a speech

describes him, makes
the day grow white
and sure, a quietness of water   
in the mind,

lets hang, descriptive   
as a risk, something
for which he cannot find   
a means or time.

Robert Creeley, “The Pool” from Selected Poems of Robert Creeley. Copyright © 1991 by the Regents of the University of California. Reprinted with the permission of the University of California Press,

Source: Selected Poems (1991)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Robert Creeley 1926–2005

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Subjects Friends & Enemies, Men & Women, Relationships

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Robert  Creeley


Once known primarily for his association with the group called the “Black Mountain Poets,” at the time of his death in 2005, Robert Creeley was widely recognized as one of the most important and influential American poets of the twentieth century. His poetry is noted for both its concision and emotional power. Albert Mobilio, writing in the Voice Literary Supplement, observed: “Creeley has shaped his own audience. The much . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Friends & Enemies, Men & Women, Relationships

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.