Nine Feet

I have always come home to the water. Swimming lessons at five were repeated at seven because it whetted my desire to feel the chlorine burn my eyes. Pool filled backyard keeps me pressed beneath the surface’s distortion and I wait until lungs are slamming against the glassy ceiling before my body follows them back to oxygen. Fall sunrises spent, when the water is warmer than the air, pulsating in a mass of anxiety on the 9 foot floor. Three feet under still leaves toes exposed, but at 9 feet below explosions could be nothing more than cannonballs and I am a mass of fall autumn leaves, blanketed by the cool blue tarp and buried in the ice for winter.

I have swum the length of my pool enough times, watching earth worms pass beneath me, I know they are all headed to the 9 foot floor. Every lap pushes their small bodies closer to the inevitable and I want to sink to the bottom and let them tumble together with the autumn leaves. Thicken my brain until I am just considered seasonal.

At seventeen I want to escape to California to climb atop waves. Climbing seaweed like steps to a throne I can see the sand swirling just before I am nearly suffocated. Yanked to the surface last for thick air that settles in the back of my throat and weighs on every thought. Then, under.

Seaweed descending like a stairway to a much different, horizontal throne, a closed lid. My lungs cannot reach to the churning surface on their own and the shell-crusted floor is much further than the earth worms have traveled.

Tangled in the sea’s arms resting so many feet below, the salted bones of a chlorinated queen have finally come home to the water.


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