i have had an irrational fear of water
since I was a tiny girl.
My fear of water lasts longer than my memory
with fuzzy bits of a flash
to remind me of my paralyzing panic.
I would become hysterical if my mother ran the bath
and left the room
certain that the tub would overfill and flood the house.
screams for help
she told me i was silly
and went to do the dishes.
I experienced my most memorable nightmare
when I was five.
In the dream,
our two story house flooded with water.
But my fear extended to any source of running water.
I was in first grade
before I was willing to turn on the faucet by myself.
When I was 7, I still refused to take a shower alone.
One time I turned the faucet the wrong direction and the water did not turn off.
My irrational outburst was from utter terror.
As I got older
I had no interest in swim lessons.
When I was in fifth grade I had to attend emergency lessons
because I could not swim.
It was literally called
and mandated by our public school district.
And, in junior high I was the last person to finish the required 200 meter swim.
I would move my arms
and kick my legs
yet somehow remain stationary.
If i can’t touch the bottom,
I don’t go in.
I don’t do cruises.
And, I kindly ask that flight attendants
give me a xanax
before possible preparation for a ‘waterborne landing’
of impending failure
being washed out to sea
A treacherous notion
nothing to grasp
to save me from drowning
and the fear
that I will never again be able to touch
what if I have taken my last step?
but failure is not a bathroom sink
for which the tap can be turned off
to insulate me from the unknown
and the wonderful irony of the situation
is that the only way to experience the exhilaration of success
is to bob along in that blue water
for the ocean is the place of calm beauty
that somehow powers my creativity.
All I can do
and have the will
to challenge the rip current
longer than it