The Drowning

Along with a flare in my lupus symptoms lately, I’ve been pretty depressed. Denying it to one and all, but when my daughter, also a therapist, keeps pointing it out to me, I stop and take note. And yeah….I have been depressed. I was attributing it to the lupus, but am now realizing belatedly that very soon it will be the anniversary of my father’s death. He was younger than I am now when he died of cancer. Somewhere, not too deep inside, I’ve always had this doom feeling that I too would die an early death. From illness. My father died of cancer. So here is the poem I wrote about that defining experience about 25 years ago:


Every now and then you hear of one.

You shudder    shake your head   and knock wood

when next you swim (as if you had a choice).

Streaming downriver with all the rest of them

buoyed by careful innocence and a fine summer

day    kicking    laughing    gasping    splashing

you hoist yourself on the dead man’s float 

for a gulp of air.

The mute scream sails skyward like a black balloon.

A man has gone under    heels over head   like a

tumbling fetus.  You try to grab him but he’s beyond

your reach     all flailing limbs   and bobbing head

and     naked    naked    naked    white

sinking feet first into it    the spiral crystal chasm

the one you never see in the middle of the river

because you had this fixed idea

about the natural flow of things.

I LOVE YOU! you scream at the head

just before it goes under.

What hurts the most later is the stillness of the water

unmarked but for jeering green reflections on its surface:

just watch how they drip through your fingers.

The river continues across the void.

He re-emerges   head first   squirting water

from his mouth like a playful dolphin

warming his face in the sun.

He smiles faintly back at you but

moves on    regret tossed behind

as distant as the grief that

always lies ahead.

by Psychscribe copyright 2008


8 Responses to “The Drowning”

  1. fjp Says:

    great poem…. wish u didn’t feel the sadness… but how else could u feel? less than a week away….

  2. kevmoore Says:

    “The mute scream sails skyward like a black balloon.”
    Such an emotive phrase. I think there’s a definite catharsis to be had from pulling these words out from inside your soul.
    I will tell you something now. I never remember the date of my Mother’s death. I hadn’t realised until recently, but I believe it was a conscious thing. I have known people unfortunate enough to be bereaved on birthdays, Christmas etc, and that is an extra burden. I know roughly when it is, but I dont have the stigma of a date to drag me down. I remember her life, her love, her laughter.
    Remember your Father as a bright balloon, and soar with him, living the years he never had.

  3. amberfireinus Says:

    I think this is a time to celebrate the life you have rather than the losses you have incurred. Your Alpha Male, your children, your whole world.

    Focus on what really counts.

  4. psychscribe Says:

    Kev: I can’t tell you how much your words touched me: “Remember your Father as a bright balloon, and soar with him, living the years he never had.” That’s what I try to do most of the time, and surely will do hopefully soon!

    amberfireinus: I generally do celebrate the life I have. In fact, I thank God every single day for it. But my father’s life really counted as well.

  5. amberfireinus Says:

    I didnt mean to sound like I was invalidating your hurt or stress or your feelings of loss over your father. However, when it gets to the point of bringing you into a state of depression when you have so many other things on your place, I have found it helpful in my own life to refocus on the things that are positive and seek those things for comfort and solace.

    Depression as you know makes all of your pain and your lupus symptoms much worse. Its a vicious cycle. 😦

  6. psychscribe Says:

    Actually, I couldn’t understand why I was so depressed and fearful…then when it dawned on me, and I wrote about it, I felt a whole lot better 🙂 Thanks for writing back 🙂

  7. stacibo Says:

    Wow. Wow. Wow.

    “the one you never see in the middle of the river
    because you had this fixed idea
    about the natural flow of things.”

    Your poem takes me to through the center of your grief and touches my heart. But then you take me through to the other side of the void where he is whole again…

    From where I sit depressed is repressed grief. Have you heard about Inanna? She is amazing, unlike Persephone who gets taken down to the underworld, ancient Sumerian Inanna chooses to visit the underworld to be with her grieving sister. A whole different way to work with grief…

    I have been deep in the underworld myself lately and learning how to embrace changing as a form of transformation–death moving to rebirth…but can’t do one without the other and often there is no way out but through.

    May you find some gentle peace in the waters.

  8. psychscribe Says:

    Staci, thank you so very much…for your comfort…for your wisdom…and for teaching me about Ianna. I will look her up and find out about her.
    Peace to you as well,

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