You said, I want to go to Northland
where rivers become oceans on hot plates of sand
and touch each other’s tentative fingertips.
Where fish and chip shops line the shoulder
of every cabled-road, and my gnarled fingers
grab tough fistfulls of sand.
No matter how much you try to avoid it
it always has a way of catching up with you.
It is as small as a pin-hole, made ragged with age.
When the demands of grief were piling up
and the vast expanse of water
was shovelling gravel at my feet.
You said, I think we’re going to find our way
while I’m amazed to have made it this far,
when a hole had opened in the ground,
and hands had appeared to grab my ankles.
These days I am happy
but still watching for fluctuations in functioning;
never able to breathe and truly mean it.
It came to a head
when I got caught in a rip, a week ago
the kind you can’t see from the shore; purposefully
I threw my weight into a paddle
as the water dragged me out,
arms fading against the pithy white scar
of tides crossing paths.
My arms were tired, and there was panic
catching in my throat, because the water was rising
above my head and I was sick with longing; longing
for the white-caps not to drag me away, this time.
So I remembered.
Swim to the side, part the ocean’s seam
panting as my body was retched back to shore
like fishbone and spit and sea.
I thought about the rest of my near death experiences
of which quite a few involve nearly drowning
but I’m not a mid eighteenth century poet
and I don’t want to die before I’m thirty and unsuccessful.
I sat on the sand
as the slate waves were buffering
and felt full of burning rage.
The steady rise and fall of my chest; sun breathing in tandem
I almost screamed. Because ten years later
September still loves
to test me, and is it turns out,
I am still, somehow, surviving.