Stunned

By David Sloan 

At ten, nothing beat holding my breath

to bursting. In bed with eyes shut,

ears plugged, I’d vanish, sink like a diver

into bottomless inky waters, 

and listen below the silence—

long pause of a sea god’s breathing—

for that surging thrum, shh-dum

shh-dum shh-dum shh-dum 

those fingers drumming on a hidden hull,

steady as a string of bubbles. Later

I loped along mountain roads

loose-limbed, aqua-lunged, Olympian. 

At times, when breath and blood converged

and beat in perfect two/four time, I floated

out of my shoes, sh-dum, sh-dum,

made the stretched skin of the sky my ocean. 

Now I can’t hold a long note without gasping.

My tangled heart flops like a fish

reeled out of the sea, stunned into stillness

between thrashings, bewildered 

by its sudden weight and a hard bottom.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2013 David Sloan. Reprinted from “The Irresistible In-Between,” Deerbrook Editions, 2013, by permission of David Sloan. Direct questions about Take Heart to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc at mainepoetlaureate@gmail.com or at 228-8263.