The dam is leaking again and I am running out of ways of plugging the holes. The latest news had me crawling under the covers, cold to the bone, depleted. Why can’t I sleep? I am exhausted. Trying to run scenarios. What worked last time? I must get myself out of doors. Get my senses activated. I get up, grab a snack from the fridge, head outside to eat on the deck. The sun is shining bright. I eat mechanically. So tired. The sun is beating down on me. I rest my firehead down on the table. Firehead. It does feel like steam will soon shoot out of my ears.

I can feel the water rising inside me. Low tide is when I can make my way on firmer sand and leave traces of my passage. It’s not an easy walk. If I deviate or am distracted, I sink in the sand and stumble trying to make my way to the next tree, the next rock, the next landmark. There is lots to discover at low tide, the underbelly of the water body.

This is definitely high tide, where I am caught unawares in a maelstrom of thoughts. Suddenly, I’m in trouble. Angry water is swishing at my ankles, making walking perilous. The ground is shifting under me, throwing me off balance. Thoughts come in small bursts. They are incomplete, synapses misfiring, a little smoke where they hit a damp spot. It’s all foggy and sorry-looking inside. Stink of wet, rotten thoughts that need airing.

Was my dam ever tight? Does a dam not always leak? The vast reservoir of emotions is kept in check uphill, a little bit trickling down at a time. I am usually pretty happy with my dam: I add defense mechanisms to it; they usually hold up real good. Except lately. Lately, the water’s been too high, it’s been coming from all over, in rivulets and rivers, from the mountains and the rainfalls. It seems that’s all I see everywhere I look. Water coming down my cheeks, thoughts swimming in my head. Did I mention I was tired? This incessant paddling, threading water without respite. An occasional bit of driftwood sustains me briefly but it doesn’t last. It eventually sinks and I am left to my own devices.

I go under a few times – the water is opaque, still and cold. Nothing seems to live down there. I would have expected sharks, at least, and plenty of stuff floating around that would be edible. It turns out nobody wants my stuff. It probably sank to the bottom of me and only strong waves stirs them up. I go back up for air, why I wonder. Why not embrace the cold and stillness? Here I am, gasping, desperate to keep going. My foot finds a ledge. It is tiny, a mere bump, but hope surges through my body as I land one foot and then switch to the other, buying time, buying time.

And yet I wonder. What if I managed to tame the water? What about free diving? I trust that I can go under, and that my body will embrace the darkness. If I push past the fear and doubt, and fully immerse myself, what then? I quiet the voice within, screaming disagreement. I go inside, deep inside, past the fear, the cold, the isolation, the night – everything known and comforting. I keep pushing. I will run out of air, yet the need for air is not pressing. I will run out of time, yet time has slowed. I am back in the eternal womb, swathed by a gentle pressure as I keep heading down. I see flashes of light as I go – weak electric currents, photoluminescence. I keep going until I find vents –chemicals and heat are the answer. This is where the primal energy resides. This is what lies below. I have hit rock bottom and there is still life.

I pause briefly. Deep down, there is no thinking, just being. This deep there is intelligence but mostly survival instinct. I kick and head up. It is a long journey, back to the light. It feels longer as my organs decompress and start crying for air, as a baby cries for attention or food. I am focused and driven. I break the surface and inhale deeply. The fire in my lungs subsides.

Is this what I feared? This subtle shift in consciousness? I can’t wait to go back.



Gray on Gray

All around is ash
Somewhere a top has blown off
I look at the sun but see only grayness
A fine dust covers everything
Covers me
With effort I go to you
My feet drag a powdery substance
I leave a trace of gray
There are no shadows in this indiscriminate day
We meet. You stir the ashes with a supple stick.
It is alive, it touches my skin.
I reward you with brief eye contact, an ember
A touch of oxygen
You keep poking purposely with your stick
Sometimes you hit a tender spot. Again, I look up
Maintain eye contact as long as I can
The effort exhausts me
Eyes downcast again, not stirring
The hour is over
I feel nothing.
Off kilter and turned off. Off.


My brain is active if my body isn’t. It moves it
Forces it to breathe in the ambient smells
To look around, to take in the surroundings
To touch the trees. A taste of bitterness.
Birds are chirping I notice.
Slowly the fog lifts
Shyly the sun shines
Things sparkle in the sun
I work hard to react
To take in the colours and translate them into beauty
Still no sweetness, no taste, but movement at least
I work myself methodically back to life
Ash cannot burn but can be stirred
A whisper of cold dust rises
And settles down again
Another day, nighttime has fallen.