Sunday, July 8, 2012

To Those Who Are Rigid in the Water

To Those Who Are Rigid in the Water 

To stay alive, you must become
ebb and wave, they’ll tell you that. It’s the
way of a body to float. And when 
did water hold you? When in a squall were you
lovingly enveloped? Lifted. Held and held, or
dragged to the surface by brazen hands. Your lungs
recall their betrayals. Your bones go
logy in the deep end. You thrash and gasp, flail
for the nearest solid thing. Those who learn to
swim learn early, with another’s
arms as raft,  as life coat.
Remember: Your resistance saved you.
Remember: It was you all those years, up nights,
who checked the depth, cut
reeds from captive feet, always, always
scanning their horizons for disturbance.

--Kristen McHenry


Jo-Ann said...

Thank you, Kristen. As always, you get to the heart of the matter.

Dick said...

I love this extended metaphor. It provides the antithesis to Stevie Smith's famous 'Not Waving But Drowning' -

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.