FRESH OFF THE PAGE: Treading water

Listen to this poem read aloud here…

Treading water

When I was young
and just learning to swim
in a sea of possibilities, 
I saw beneath me always,

very clearly, through the water,
the bright solid shape
of the bottom below;
I felt its presence,
took comfort in its clarity,
ever there, solid and sure,
visible as I swam,
should I chance to look down.

Then as I grew,
and life’s rough lessons 
turned me over and under

like the churning of the tides,
my constant movements–
choices made and not,
the losses and gains,
those things left unsaid,
loose ends still untied–
stirred the sands beneath me,
clouded the waters
once so blue and clear.

Til now there is only a haze,
floating suspended,
surrounding me–
no bottom is visible, 
no direction certain,

no comfort or solace found
in the void obscured beneath;
I can’t see anymore 
what might wait there,

what monsters or miracles,
terrible and beautiful,
glide all around me.

Still I keep treading water,
knowing all the while
I could drift here forever,
or be swept up, saved,
or gone in a moment
down to the depths;
or I might yet find the strength
to keep on swimming, 
turn my gaze forward,
give up on looking down,
pressing bravely onward
toward an unseen shore.

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