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 firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-8263.