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Art and Poetry

SWIMMING LESSONS

lessons

My heart is heavy. 

Everything I love is submerged in you. 

I don’t know quite how to say that 

I don’t know how to float without you. 

Your fingers are headlands that turn the tide. Your skin sits in small, sunset waves on the back of your hands: use them to hold on. Hold on to anything; everything that’s ever cast a smile on your lips…let it pull you through the water. Glide towards me. 

You make everything make sense. My sails shook when I got the news, and they continue to waiver in the wind now that you try to remember your date of birth, the current monarch, how to count backwards from twenty… 

Memories of you teaching them to me. 

Everything I love is submerged in you. 

Do you remember when it rained so hard that a tiny sparrow drowned in a tub of water in the garden? His body lay limp and feeble in my hand, I lifted him to lower him into the ground. He lay—light, strained, tired. I’m reminded because that is how your hand feels in mine today. 

The nurses say you haven’t had enough to drink today; I would bring the sea to your feet if you could remember to stay hydrated, but still, you’d take a sip and send the tides away. 

Pointless chatter of what’s been on telly, and of friends that you don’t even remember to splash the silence. Conversation ebbs and flows sometimes, but I too sometimes forget. I forget to swim when you can’t subtract two from eight, and when we celebrate because you can still read out loud and it pulls me under. 

I drown every night. I row and row throughout the day, my body is tired and aching and I drown when I remember your frowning questions, the risks of you coming home – and your desperation to.  

The water takes me when my skin remembers how your fingertips felt, stroking my cheek when I asked if I was keeping you from sleeping. 

You are tired. 

We paddle through days and visitations, through warm afternoons and sleepy eyes. We tread water with getting you better.  

You know how to swim, so swim.  

Keep your head above water. Kick your feet. Glide to me. 

Hold my hands and I will pull you through, saving myself by saving you. 

You are light, anyway. But  

My heart is heavy. 

Everything I love is submerged in you. 

I don’t quite know how to say 

I don’t know how to float without you. 

 

 

Author: Menna Siwan
Email: mennasiwan@googlemail.com
Author Bio: I’m a twenty one year old art student trying to get through life, love and mental illness
 

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2 Comments

  1. Such a moving piece. Beautiful and terrible.

    Reply
  2. Wow! Really moving. My mum has dementia and my grandmother had it, so I feel it too – you just say it better than I do!

    Reply

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