Into the Shock of It

Last summer I started swimming in the sea, something that I’d never been particularly fond of as a child. Although I loved to swim I grew up a good 2-hour drive from the coast and I didn’t enjoy the way the waves seemed to pounce, making me cough as I inhaled sea water, eyes stinging as I spluttered. But in coming back to it as an adult, I’ve learnt to love it. As summer slipped into autumn and gradually gave way to winter, I continued with my swims and became a convert. There’s something wonderful about being at eye-level with the water, literally submerged in something that you’re usually on the fringes of. So, just over a year since I penned my first love-letter to Ireland, I offer this little ditty in appreciation of this lovely country and its surrounding seas.


Into the Shock of It

I wade out into the water
the coldness creeping
up my body with a prickle.
Sand shifts under my soles
and I let my hands hover
stretching out time
like e l a s t i c, 
putting off the plunge.

There is no thought,
only motion.
Forwards. Inwards
against the frothing waves,
leaving behind the sigh
of sea on shale
and the gentle bubble.

Then eye-level, all at once
water rushing
sloshing
numbing my neck as I 
let go,
thrash out
into the shock of it.
Swear. Chatter.

Five minutes of ebb and flow, 
then I find myself again, 
flip over skywards,
lift my legs and lie
otter-like,
basking in blissful content.

My body hums on a cellular level.
Nose pressed up to nature,
sea-salt-coated, sublime.

Suddenly a cormorant surfaces,
silver fish clasped in its beak,
eyes alertly aquamarine,
black feathers sleek before it
plunges
back down
leaving but a ripple in its wake.

Seconds stretch,
minutes lose meaning as I 
make my way back to the shore.
Getting out is grimmer than the in,
my body now as reluctant to leave
as it was to swim.

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