Were We Always Drowning?

A moment of panic, brief but intense,                                                                                                                      A sideways wave in the mouth that shouldn’t have been open,                                                                            Swim, breathe out, stroke, breathe;

This isn’t the first time, the surprise,                                                                                                              Water, somehow in the throat and the nose;                                                                                           Coughing, choking, treading water, realizing your feet no longer touch,                                                     The deep end;

“Oh,” you say, “I only play in the shallows,”                                                                                                Running up and away,                                                                                                                                               Back down the slope, challenging, full gallop, full dive,                                                                                Under the roll, rolling;

I’ve said I would never surrender,                                                                                                                          Never sink into that cold, dark deep; bottomless;                                                                                                   I can float when I can no longer swim;                                                                                                                  But I do know that panic, the fear; we all do;

“Swim,” we all scream, in unison;                                                                                                                        Each of us believing, hoping we’re still safely ashore,                                                                                     Each wave washing out moats around our feet,                                                                                          Looking for that wave that will wash you closer, close enough;

Helpless, hands extended out or up,                                                                                                                      Out to the horizon, up to the heavens,                                                                                                       “Rescue… please;”

The knowing, eventually,                                                                                                                                       Washes over the believing and the hoping;                                                                                                       Panic and fear and hope and struggle;

Looking away from those lining the shore,                                                                                                        That line, loved ones, a chorus, an almost-heard song                                                                                     Just above the farthest-reaching wave;

The clouds, different waves in a different sea;                                                                  Floating;                                                                                                                                                                       It’s not surrender; we were always drowning.

Image (209)

For my youngest sister, Melissa, who floated away sometime during the night.

3 thoughts on “Were We Always Drowning?

  1. Look, I wasn’t trying to be cool, spreading the lines across the page; It was all lined-up properly, margin left; I posted it, and it went all crazy. I edited it again, and again, properly aligned. Update. Scattered. Leaving it.

  2. Erwin, Melissa would have loved this drawing, she was so happy to make it down to the beach at Swami’s last summer, a special place for her. Jerome

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