“Lifeguard” By Claudia Emerson is a nine stanza poem written using the literary device known as enjambment. It does not include a specific rhyming pattern. Each stanza consists of two lines, the second of which runs into the next stanza as an incomplete thought.
The author describes a young lifeguard’s actions as she watches a middle-aged woman’s ritual of swimming laps at the local Y. The woman is the only person in the pool and the monotony of her actions lull the lifeguard to sleep. Due to the literary style, the reader must carry each thought from stanza to stanza in much the same way as the woman repeatedly swims each lap. The meter and visual aesthetics of the poem emphasize the repetitive nature of the laps as the form repeats in each stanza. The woman swims her laps one after another without stopping in-between. The poem mimics this in style and form.