For Zachary

I lost myself yesterday
Drowning in the ever-oncoming waves
My head slipping
Slowly but surely
Beneath the surface
Nothing but water
As far as the eye can see

When you appeared
I thought you would pull me to shore
But instead
You filled my mouth with breath
From the metal tank carried on your back
You took my hand
And said with a twinkle:
“Come on”.

We dove down into the ocean
To its dark and mysterious depths
We watched the strange fish
That circled around us
In a magical, slow-motion dance
The sea plants tickled our feet

Everything was possessed
Of a poignant magic
You placed a shell in my hand
Glimmering and sleek
A perfect tiny pattern
Beauty in the deep

I had been fighting so hard to swim
But I didn’t need an ever-shifting, sandy shore
I needed the cool certainty
Of standing on the sea floor

When we came back up
And our heads broke into the salty air
I was no longer afraid
Of the water
Of the waves
Of my own thrashing helplessness

I opened my hand
And watched the shell
Fall slowly back down
Into the darkness
Where I could not see it anymore

I smiled to know
It would be waiting for me
The next time I need
To turn away from the struggle

To rest on the seabed
Surrounded by treasures
Undreamed of by those
Floating in boats above

Photo by Mostafa Ashraf Mostafa on Unsplash