This prose poem is from the prompt Water we received on the second day of the retreat on Pantelleria. I brought a struggle with me to the gathering, a pivotal decision to be made about my future. And there on that sparse, volcanic island – closer to Tunisia than Italy – I was able to see more clearly through Water than I was ever able to do with the charts and statistics I’d laid out neatly and collated logically to help me decide. The logical charts hadn’t helped me at all and kept bringing me back to the same thought that to follow my heart makes no sense at all. I had to go halfway around the world to understand my dilemma and sort it out. The WOW retreats do that – take you to places where you have no choice but to unplug, and thus unfettered, allows you to look at things differently and see what’s really there. I am not a poet at all. Far from! But, even having words come out of me in a different way in a different place with different people was useful to render clarity.
I’m in control until I’m not. And when I’m not I struggle,
fighting the water; gasping when it rushes right into me.
I’m reminded I forgot to breath before it hit. Damn.
I drown. I go down. Now thoroughly and completely down,
I find out – what’s down there. What’s down here,
where I am now. Down in the layers of muck and sediment,
among fossils of the non-living, who once lived but now
they just don’t because they can’t.
Their choice of fuel was always going to be self-depleting,
and once it’s gone, well – it’s gone. That’s it then.
There’s nothing left to do in that fuel-less place but die
and become shells of ourselves. And I do that.
I die, but I will not be committed to fossil and shell.
I decide. There is nothing left to do but sever bindings.
So, I grab them. Rip them. Leave them there and float up.
And it’s easy. I’m surprised that it’s actually – easy.
I’m amused that it took that long to realize, to know I had that –
that shell. A shell, it turns out I don’t even need. I thought I did,
but now I know. I don’t. Funny, I did not even see it –
did not realize, until I lost it, that I ever had it in the first place.
That’s how the sheer weight of the thing – that confining,
limiting shell – can go unnoticed, or if I do notice, how I
convince myself of its usefulness to me. How maddening.
What a stupid construct, really, that somehow
I thought I needed it, but now that it’s gone I am so light –
Light and light – a self-illuminating, auto-renewing
luminescence in water floating up
from deep and pressing water to something I can actually tread.
Once I know that, I can move in any direction I choose. And I do.
I choose – to move. Away. Away from the safe shore I’ve sold myself
as logical to that one – the one I feel is out there, just beyond sight.
I am certain it’s there because, having dwelt in water for so long,
I’m an expert. I know water – how it moves, how I fight it, how it
flows around me when I let it. So, I find the path, that synchronous current
that I don’t have to fight to navigate. It moves me forward with ease,
with a hum and a flow. A flow that I know
would move away from me if I tried to control it.
So, now that I have died, escaped the shell, left it there and floated up,
It’s clear that I’m not really moving away from but going toward.