Open Water

One Petit Carême day of youthful oblivion
I visited the ocean with two friends.
The afternoon wore on
As we follied in open water;
A riptide curled its tentacles around my ankles.

As I flailed and struggled to surface
Gasping with desperation
To reintroduce air into my lungs,
Her fingers interlocked mine from in front
And his strong hands pushed at my back.
Limbs and lives in unison
We worked in silence
Heaving ourselves ashore.

As the sun blazed down from above
And the water from our bodies soaked into the sand,
Maniacal laughter burst from our chests
Ringing out above the ocean’s harsh whispers
And upwards into the cloudless blue sky
Challenging — no, daring! — the Gods
To try again.

We knew, without saying, that any reversal of roles, any shifting on the board of players;
The outcome would have been the same.
We were friends
We were fearless
We were fools.

Funny thing…
Today, if I were to once more be
In open water
With these two,
One would look away
Or laugh;
The other would
Secret a smile
And watch me drown.

See, that’s the thing about
And youthful oblivion…
The assumption
Of love
Of trust
Of equality
Permeates everything.

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