My uncle once told me that in a riptide,
the waves are like a hand pulling you back.
I was always aware; cautious —
knowing the waves clung to bodies with a strong grip.
It wasn’t until the buoyant trait of my mind disengaged
with the insight of my stomach,
and I realized the waves have claws, too.
I wanted to watch the sunsets of your skin;
I caught you during the peak of your hurricane season.
In the wreck of your arms my uncle’s warnings washed away,
brutally devoured by the temper of your nature.
Yet I managed to remember a riptide is most common during
but forgot to plant my feet securely in the ocean’s sand,
empowering you to drag me further from the shore.
The panic haunted my lungs but I swam,
knowing my breath would soon be limited.
How can the simple steps of survival
drown so quickly in the midst of panic?
How do we find ourselves as the attraction of disaster
when we try so hard to avoid it?
When will bodies float
and when will they sink?
Your strength enclosed my throat, and my ears plugged with water.
But through the pleas for air my memory
jogged warnings from the past —
“Do not fight the current, you will lose”
“Calmness will conserve you, panic will drown you”
“Swim parallel to the shore, to the horizon”
“Whatever you do,
survive the riptide”