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Breathing Underwater

Breathing Underwater

by Carol Bialock

I built my house by the sea.

Not on the sands, mind you,

not on the shifting sand.

And I built it of rock.

A strong house

by a strong sea.

And we got well aquainted, the sea and I.

Good neighbors.

Not that we spoke much.

We met in silences,

respectful, keeping our distance

but looking our thoughts across the fence of sand.

Always the fence of sand our barrier,

always the sand between.

And then one day

(And I still don’t know how it happened)

The sea came.

Without warning.

Without welcome even.

Not sudden and swift, but shifting across the sand like wine,

less like the flow of water than the flow of blood.

Slow, but flowing like and open wound.

And I thought of flight, and I thought of drowning, and I thought of death.

But while I thought, the sea crept higher till it reached my door.

And I knew that there was neither flight nor death nor drowning.

That when the sea comes calling you stop being good neighbours,

Well aquainted, friendly from a distance neighbours,

And you give your house for a coral castle

And you learn to breathe under water

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