This week's Poetry Thursday prompt was to write about time. I had been thinking about time as a distance earlier this week when I drove by what I used to think was just a shallow, man-made retention pond nearby my home. Earlier this summer, a car slid into the pond and I was amazed when I heard on the news that the pond was 80 feet deep. I wish that I could look at this pond and only be joyful for the young boy who was rescued from the sinking car; but instead, knowing how deep it is, I shudder now at how what looks like such an innocous pond, its shoreline receded during times of drought, is treacherously deep.
80 FEET DEEP
The ducks paddle carelessly,
not knowing what stirs
beneath in algal water,
murky and still.
Innocent, pastoral, and calm,
until the SUV rolls back
across the parking lot,
clearing the low rail
like a lumbering elephant.
Unfathomable screams ripple across the surface
stealing air from a mother's lungs,
freezing her heart with dankness
as, across time in slo-mo,
all of his life falls out of the sky
towards the bottom.
No feet put on solid ground,
only wrinkles in glass;
air bubbles surfacing.
13 fathoms measured in seconds,
ticking off the lost years
of childhoods yet to be,
the comfort not to be had
if he reached for the far bottom too soon.
80 feet too close towards the future,
feet measured in seconds and breath,
until the earth stops spinning
and he stops falling, rising to the top,
with a splash kick of air and fire,
to see the light of day
in his mother's fearful smile.
Now as I travel nearby,
I wonder how many seconds separate us,
how many feet exceed our tiny grasp?
I am not a strong swimmer
and let murky time slip through
my chilled fingers like melting snowcaps.
How many times do we set out on
journeys with arcs unmeasurable:
the curve of the horizon
much farther than the blazed trail;
the valleys of the heart much deeper
than we can imagine?
How many times does the earth,
having swallowed a life whole,
spit it out to fall
into the bright blue sky?