Poem: "In the Belly of the Bird"

I would like to dedicate this poem to Linda Russ, Pam Elmore and Melody Wilson. You were my "guardians" this week. May I always remember to reach out and grab the hands that are extended. 

(Photo credit: environmentalaska.us)

In the Belly of the Bird
By Rachel E. Watson

The great white shark surges up
to snap my tightrope in two,
plunging me deep into the belly
of the icy upper Pacific—
shark- and whale-infested waters—
and I really, truly,
believe I cannot swim.

But then a rescue copter
calls out to me from above:
“Kick your legs,” the pilot says.
I kick until I feel my legs give out.

Just before my limbs fail me, 
the guardian ties a rope
to the chopper’s landing skids
and starts to descend
down to the mooringless waters.

Extending a strong arm,
she pulls me up.

I am now in the belly of this bird,
not in the belly of the waters.
Hours elapse before that sinks in.

A soft, fleece blanket has been wrapped
around my shoulders—who did that?
I’m not sure I’ll be able to thank her
because my whole body is shaking.

I’m not on that tightrope,
I’m not kicking in shark-infested waters.
The stinging smell of the saltwater cannot harm me,
although its briney taste still pierces my tongue.

I have to retrain my brain
to look at the horizon, 
to converse with the pilot
and to thank my guardian.

The shore is hours away.
I don’t have to swim there.
And that is enough.

© Rachel E. Watson 2015.

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Adam said...

I especially love the last lines:

"The shore is hours away.
I don’t have to swim there.
And that is enough."

Rachel E. Watson said...

Cool! That's great feedback. I wrote two endings for it, and this was the second one. So I'm glad I went with my gut on which was more impactful. :)