Playing in the Shallows

There was always a choice

between standing in the river

and swimming in it –

between wetting the bottom

of a pair of jeans and

diving wholeheartedly

into those murky waters.

To those who lurked around

the edge but never dared

to go out past their waists,

too afraid to find what was

there in the deep,

I must tell you this:

the currents have so many times

tried to drown me, but out there

in the middle of it, in the life of it,

I learned how to dance with them.

Beyond the shallows and the comfort

of solid ground, I understood the ways

of water, the philosophy of depth,

the unexpected profoundness in

removing one’s feet from the bottom,

that leap into uncertainty.

Breathing underwater is a feat

reserved only for those who know

how to carry the world inside their lungs.

Let us go, let us make a journey

out of finding the way to the river’s

heart when so many settle only

for tracing its fingertips.

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11 thoughts on “Playing in the Shallows

  1. Inspiring!
    My favourite part is “Breathing underwater is…only for those who know how to carry the world inside their lungs.”
    I have often dreamt of struggling underwater until I just relax – and – breath. So this piece means so much to me.

    1. That is a common feeling for me, too. I just finished reading an amazing book – The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – that dove into this topic with rigorous complexity and beauty. I just knew I had to respond to that. Thank you for this comment 🙂

      1. You’re welcome Natalie. Oh, Neil is one of my favourite authors and this book is on my reading list. Great to know that it was inspiring to you. Maybe I will understand this dream theme more once I’ve read it.

  2. Natalie,
    I really enjoyed this poetic offering.
    “There was always a choice between standing in the river and swimming in it -between wetting the bottom of a pair of jeans and diving wholeheartedly
    into those murky waters.”

    From the moment this overture, your poem slashes through the tent covering reality. Thanks for providing holes that anyone can look (read) through to see the truth of existence. Thanks for both encouraging and reassuring people to take the jump.

    I personally resonate with the line “that leap into uncertainty”. This has been,and continues to be, the story of my life.

    Thanks for carrying your personal messages into the wider realm of the universal.

    All the best.
    Alice

    1. Slashing through the tent covering reality? Making holes? Geez, Alice, this is a poem in and of itself 🙂 I don’t think the art of writing has ever been described so beautifully, or accurately.

      My faith lies in the leapers, the jumpers, the divers. I can believe in them in times when I can’t believe in anything else. I’m so glad to have gotten to know the one in you. Thanks for always listening. Sometimes this all feels like screaming into an empty void, but the echoes back convince me otherwise 😉

      Natalie

      1. Natalie,
        Thanks for you kind words on my commentary. That’s me (and my poor dragged along family, now): the leaper, jumper and diver. Thanks for believing. All this free-fall can be unnerving at times.

        Keep screaming into the empty void. I love to read what you have to scream 😉

        As long as the internet and wordpress and gmail and my lame “free” wifi work from time to time, I’m out here reading. Keep writing.

        Alice

  3. Wow, jeans, lungs and water, all in one poem, Natalie, cool! You know that refrain we say a lot as old people, “I wish I knew then what I know now?” Well, I feel like you will look back and say, I knew it then too. You already know now what I wish I had known then. And by the way, the image of tracing the water’s fingertips… Brilliant!

Thoughts? I love those.

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