Reposted to put triggers behind a cut.
In the summer of my eleventh year
I failed my swimming lessons.
What got me was floating.
You pretended to be dead
& then languidly,
after many long moments
Lift your head
Ever-so-slightly to take a breath of air.
On January 18th 1997,
I was raped.
by four friends I’d grown up with my whole life;
they burnt me with cigarettes
& afterwards asked my forgiveness;
said they couldn’t help it,
in my naivety
I forgave them.
The bottom dropped out from under
Everything I thought I knew to be true
Floating panicked me
Pretending to be dead made me feel dead
& my body was not about to cooperate with that.
After the rape, I felt like I was floating
through reality, nothing solid to cling to.
I developed an affliction for cutting myself
& eventually attempted suicide by
electrocuting myself in the bathtub with my CD player,
lulled by Jeff Buckley’s rendition of Hallelujah.
Already dead inside,
I could disappear at any moment,
like an assumption.
Every time I took the swimming test,
When it came to the floating,
A fierce part of me awoke
& forced me up
Gasping for air;
I feared myself,
How many selves did I contain &
When were they planning to lift their faces
Out of the deep end of my life,
demanding solid ground?
It was my therapist
that finally helped me deal
With my rape;
“Healing begins in parts”, she said.
“It stretches beyond yourself as you speak of what you have been through.
As you heal you will grow,
in searching for healing you will find yourself
in a way you will never have imagined”
& I thought,
maybe certainty & forever Is not the point
Why should I fear pain & the unknown?
Why should I let it paralyze me in my own life?
Down into the water, hanging there
Still amidst the currents
It has a particular rhythm,
This small, flesh-colored raft in a sea of human need.
But my soul lifts its face up from the depths
Calmly, remembering to stay limp,
be carried & steadily,
unfailingly to seek air
At a time