Breathing Underwater

I’m seeing things that aren’t there
snippets of things, of people
I feel a presence in the room with me
my cat looks up at it and I think it’s him
Is this how it happens, then?
The drowning, is this how it goes?
Softly, for months, for years, and then
seeing an irritable Indian lady in the window
out his side of the car; it could have been the tree
either way
seeing something, someone, just once,
out of the corner of the eye, startling
and then gone
or never there
feeling, sensing, a something while I wash my hands
and my cat stares at it, the place it’s coming from
and I turn around and it isn’t him?

Well fine.
I thought it would be…
than just this, I always liked to think so
But if this is it, I’m ready in my own way.
Where are the sobs, though? and the blades
and the pills and the glamour and the drama?
I’m fine with this, I am, but I did expect
more. something.

Suppose I’m just tired
from sleeping too much and resting too little
that would explain it, but the tide has been coming
for a very long time and I thought
something would be drowning me soon
I’ve been on the lookout, scouring the shores
looking out, agitated at every wave in the periphery.
A peculiar end to it; no crescendo to speak of
(there’s always a crescendo). I’ve heard enough
even with the ocean, a crescendo is inevitable:
the wave builds and builds and
Simple, inevitable.
It’s neat enough in nature, but this has never been nature,
has it?

There’s never been anything natural about the way
you sit on the now-cold sand day in, day out
the way you squint towards the oncoming ripples,
your hand over your brow in a salute,
only blocking the setting sun.
How long has it been since you moved, do you think?
Days? Weeks? Years?
You’ve thought about it: getting up and moving
but you’d only move further down the tide-line,
tracing it with your footsteps, watching and still

You imagine you’re a mermaid, you’re a phoenix
who’s been trapped underwater instead of in ashes,
fire never applied to you, it’s too hot and quick.
You’re a phoenix in the water and when you rise, you have legs
you’re the mermaid who traded her voice for legs
but all you want is your voice back;
you don’t belong in this sand, it’s cold here
this isn’t what you thought it would be
so you have legs and you stand on the shore
and you let the cold water envelop your calves
of course you do
and you wait anyway
because there isn’t anything natural about you, about it.


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