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