Today's poem is by Chris Ransick

How I Swam to the Bottom of the Ocean

I did it on a dare; my friend was smug
about my inevitable failure, saying
"You know you'll never make it." So I
stripped my clothes right there, left
pants and shirt and shoes right on the sand
and waded into surf, the frigid water
snapping my testicles to attention.
I wanted to not look back but I was
weak at that moment and so I turned,
looked over my shoulder to where he stood,
arms folded, grin on his face. He waved
a little wave as if to say "Go on,
I will comfort your woman."
Then came the moment of truth. The water
swelled and my body left the firm
footing beneath; I was afloat.
I breathed my deepest breath and dove
down, down, down, salt stinging my eyes
when I opened them to measure the
fading light. I thought I'd see
sharks but at first it was only
tangled mats of seaweed clinging
to my arms and neck. Oh, for a machete,
I thought. Just then, a yellow fish
kissed my forehead. In shock,
I opened my mouth and out came
all my air. But the kiss had freed me.
I could breath the water like she could
breathe the water, gills suddenly
flapping beneath my jaw. The pressure
in my ears subsided. I propelled myself
down to where organic bits swirled
as dust motes float in sun shafts
of abandoned rooms. Shapes emerged
to left and right, coarse heaps of rock.
The deeper I went the darker it got,
until I swam not by sight but by feel,
seeking thicker water, colder, more black.
Things brushed along my sides, smooth
and muscled creatures, checking out
my size and shape. I felt welcome,
unafraid. Finally, I found the ocean floor,
silt so soft I burrowed in a foot, my face
embraced by a cool palm.
I would have stayed, I swear, but knew
my friend was already on his
cell phone, calling the coroner,
arranging for flowers to be delivered
to a church I never visit. Coming up
was harder; the light above
flowed against me like current,
buffeting me with all the things
to which I would return: my desk,
my car, tax forms, a pending
prostate exam. Still, that's where I
belonged. When I emerged again,
it was night in a foreign land.

Copyright © 2006 Chris Ransick All rights reserved
from Lost Songs & Last Chances
Ghost Road Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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