Revised (9am)

Driven downstream
into the rapids
I wish I could
drift Plato,
I’m pulled by currents
slammed against the
rocks and thrown
from my raft.

My life preserver did
nothing I sank like
a stone and was stuck in
the undertow. My partner
floated above me as my knees
dragged along the rocks.
I pulled my hand free
and everything went black.

I popped up twenty
feet downstream,
I washed ashore
they though I was dead.

I really don’t
float, not even
with a life

This took place on the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle, PA in the 1980’s.


13 thoughts on “Reply to Drifting

  1. When I started reading this I thought it was a metaphor. Then I realised that it really happened, and it felt like something exploded in my head. It’s a powerful poem, and the absence of any mention of fear or flailing makes it masterful.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve been told that after a near death experience, people wake up every day for years just glad to be alive. Is that how it was for you?
        It didn’t happen with my son, perhaps because the first two times he was still a child, and the third and fourth time he was an addict.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I never felt that it was a near death experience. I just woke up clinging to a rock, downstream near the opposite shore.

        It was how they taught me to swim when I was little. Throw her in and see if she floats. I never floated. I would sit at the bottom and look up until someone dove in to get me.

        In junior high school, they put me in diving, though I could not swim. They assured me that I would not drown. I stood on the diving board afraid of heights and water until, I just gave up one day and dove in. The teacher had put a pole in the water and I would walk across the bottom of the pool then pull myself out using arm strength, until I made it to the stairs built in to the side of the pool. It felt like I was choosing to die by diving in. I became a good diver. Hardly any splash. I never really got over the terror (fear of heights and water.) They always had the pole for me. When the module ended, They put me in swimming. I HATE swimming. I could never get the breast stroke right. I’m as coordinated as a deer on skates. I was better at back stroke. I was always drinking pool water. It was torture to be in those classes. They kept telling me to relax and fill my lungs with air and I should be able to float. They never measured my lack of body fat. After somebody tortures you everyday. You get used to it. No, there is no elation about getting out because, I knew I would have to do it again and again if I wanted to pass the class. I could never do the dead man’s float, I floated below the surface. I learned the breast stroke, the crawl, the back stroke, side stroke and how to tread water. I can barely swim, I just have to drink so much pool water and use so much energy to keep afloat its hardly worth it. They used to talk about how strong and persistent I was. They said I was like a horse. My mom explained that it was some sort of compliment. No gym teacher cared to send me to a therapist to deal with my terror. Abject terror.

        I preferred dry sports like field hockey, archery, fencing and volley ball. I could take out my hostility on the boys on the other side who would make fun of me because I was essentially a tall walking stick. I jump high and spike well. I suck at basket ball, but I could play dodgeball all day long and never get hit.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I thought they gave up that method of tesching people to swim when my dad was small. If he was still alive he would be 99 years old now.It’s nice that you were strong and persistent you were – not drowning when they forced you to go in the pool!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. This was 1973 or 1974. I sat at the bottom of the pool looking up until someone noticed I wasn’t swimming or floating. When they yanked me out of the water that’s when I got a lung full of pool water. I told my mom and they got an ear full from her, then we never went back to class.

        Liked by 1 person

Any thoughts on the above post are appreciated! Otherwise, I think I must be living under a rock.

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