Dead Man

I saw the blue sky
as I was dying
the last thing I would embrace
with my aching heart
the blue sky and the clouds
having swam out too far, too fast
pridefully, greedily, recklessly
to find myself alone
and in the company of water
where my body knew
in a way my mind
was slow to apprehend
that I could not make it back home
that I would struggle
and sink into the darkness
I knew this
from my weakness
and in the long separating distance
that I had created
I looked up
for a saving breath
and I saw the blue sky
and there I forgot myself and my death
surprised by thankfulness
at the gift
that had been graced to me
here at the end
I leaned back
gazed at heaven
and surrendered
I laid down upon the waters
as a dead man
and lived

Biographical note.

This poem is a metaphor using an incident during High School when I almost drowned.

Some friends were floating on tubes out in the middle of a large lake. I'm a terrible swimmer, but I figured I could swim out to them and grab a hold of one of the tubes. So I jumped in and started swimming the very long distance out to the tubes, giving it everything I had as I figured I wouldn't need any reserves to swim back. A one-way, all out swim out into the middle of a lake to grab a tube.

The distance was much greater than I had judged. And while I was swimming out my friends had paddled off, not noticing I was swimming out to them. I found myself totally exhausted and far away from any help. Too winded to cry out. I stared going under and began to panic.

Gasping for air I threw my head back to keep it out of the water. So far back I felt my body grow lighter in the water. I kept leaning back, looking up and the sun and sky. Inadvertently I found myself doing a Dead Man's float. I kept telling myself, "Keep looking at the sky. Lean back, lean back, keep looking at the sky."

And I clearly remember thinking, looking at that clear blue sky, that it was such a beautiful day to die.

But as I looked at the sky, as I laid down upon the waters as a dead man, I found myself floating.

And I lived.

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