Fun Things to Do in Columbus, Ohio #7: Visit the Whetstone Park of Roses


I was terrified of my high school swim coach.
Hippolyta with broader shoulders and chlorine-bleached
hair, she required sets even the Amazons would balk at
and her sympathy, genuine and thick and wet, only
made us cringe, pool water dripping from our hair onto
her smart leather dockers. She stood at three inches
over my father and could hold a jungle cat, a fully-grown
woman, at least twenty kickboards in her wingspan. She
was more like a plane than a bird, more like a bird than
a woman. We called her queen and complained openly
when she whistled at us from the deck, our heads buried
in bubbles but still attuned to the sharp clutch of her fingers
around her bottom teeth, louder than hot air balloon fuel.

Her son, Herculean and handsome, slept his way through our
team, but she chose to ignore the pattern of hickeys peeking
out of necklines and hip cutouts on our racing suits, repetitive
as a trademark. We all agreed that the boy needed new moves
even as he swept through our ranks like wildfire. She would
destroy anyone who crossed us, including her son, flora or fauna
or foe, and ten years out of the pool we all still see her flashing
eyes and rangy limbs when someone raises a hand to smack us —
no longer a school of fish, we break like the surface of the water
and pray for her strength, muscles encouraging muscles and
the way she made her flight look like fight.