I saw him, you say
I saw him drown
but I didn’t turn around.
While this sinks to the bottom of my mind
I watch you.
What good can come of this?
It’s end of life, you say
The end craves its confession.
Maybe I just want to be free of it.
I nod, understanding (or maybe I don’t)
A life, underpinned by one thing
is on the rocks, sliding
with me chained to the reins.
I was so young then
not frightened, perhaps
but afraid to miss out.
A body like that can pull you under
The panic claws at your breath
demands just one thing: Life.
What if I couldn’t hold him?
The surface seemed endless
the shore; the salvation, a hallucination.
I swam, my strokes breaking the water
then ran for freedom
only to be trapped inside my mind.
One afternoon on the lake
One boy – only – returned
One boat, never reclaimed
One life went on
One life, lost, the remnants found.
Two boys disappeared that day
but one went on living
Some fifty years later
you showed me his grave
I didn’t know, wasn’t prepared.
Two parents reunited with their son
The stillness, the insignificance of the place:
A mockery to the impact of the event.
You left one thing out, I say, later
Startling the silence.
You’re asleep, perhaps no longer listening
If not for you, I wouldn’t be
Maybe you swam to save me
Maybe you saw something good
Who is to say what lies beneath a life
what lies what guilt what shame
that prop it up.
Only if it breaks, will it seep out
It’s the silence we should fear.