Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Someone asked me (I don’t know
man or woman, someone sounding kind)
to touch the bottom of a river

I thought they meant a brook
but they meant river

They put me in a rocking boat
the one voice with many faces
we were huddled against the rain
breathing together as the motor hummed
and the wind spitting and swallowing air

and then the motor stopped
and the wind
and they were all touching me as I looked up
hoping to see the sun, touching me
saying with one voice
We’ve all done it
you can do it

so I did it
kicking in the cold, trying
to remember all the other times I’ve swum
trying to remember with my feet
and my head
my elbows, trying
to remember with my skin

but either I forgot
or never knew
how to swim my body
coming up empty

and I kicked

hard against dark
hard toward sunlight, though there was no sun

and my limbs were so heavy
lungs so tight
I forgot to feel ashamed
(till I saw them, sitting silent)
for having touched nothing
at all