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Going Under


-photo by Sally Podmore



You have to go under sometimes;

to allow yourself to release your grip on functionality and productivity,

to suspend attention to the extraneous daily.


You have to relinquish the surface, lean back into the deep, and let go.


You book time off, time away, time alone.

Immediately the voices of culture and fear come -

you'll get lost!

you'll drown!

you'll never make it back home!

you don't have time for this, you don't have money for this, you don't have permission for this...


That leaning back takes trust, to slide under the surface willingly, and go to the deep.


The water isn't the monster of your dreams, waiting to suck you under.

It's an almost solid surface that you slip between the atoms of.

It reforms around you,

holding you equally on all sides.


You gasp a last breath and hold it, belly and ribs clenching to hold it, shoulders stiffening,

until you remember that you know how to breathe this water.

This water of your deepest being

feeds your lungs with nothing so everyday as oxygen,

but with the air of mountains, trees, stars.


Every cell remembers this air, knows this water,

knows that it is water.


And you let that last gasp go, your head falls back, your shoulders soften, and you begin.

The water will take you in the way of your oldest ancestors,

rising to catch you and guide you down.


As you sink below the surface, often pain is right there, like a band of cold water to be passed through. These are the pains of living in a world, divided.


The all-encompassing pains are there, too,

that from the surface look like dark reed beds,

waiting to trap and hold you.


But water bends light,

bends time and space and memory,

and these reeds, these pains and memories that wait in the deep,

bend around you as you sink through.


Your hands pass over and through them,

and you find yourself hearing their stories through your skin

in the singsong voices of small children.


The container of these memories is no longer just your body,

not just your being,

but the soul deep, soul wide ocean.


Alone, and in the deep,

the tears come and join the currents and eddies of the tides.

Words come with them that you say out loud,

hearing how different they sound in your underwater ears.


The harmonics surprise you,

as your raw throat sounds a different timbre,

revealing layers unknowable before this moment.


The water washes and rearranges your cells

into an easier fitting closeness.


And what holds this deep?

Earth, mother, though you hate to put so small a word

to the complete fullness you feel rising around you.


You are held,

and with every cold current of memory and story,

older memory is brought to you by your truest ancestors.

Those warm waves roll through you,

creating and filling in a new shape of you.


Water bends time, bends bone and memory,

and you see through the lens of the deep,

days passing in their own rhythm.


On the last day, knowing it is time to breach the surface again,

you unfold your legs, feel how the sandy bottom rises to meet your feet,

and push into that softness.


Your song is different in you now,

your cells carry the air of the deep,

your bones flash silvered and warm inside,

and you rise.



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