parenting,  poetry,  trauma

Poem: Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

“Drowning doesn’t look like drowning,” says the Teacher. “Know the signs, they aren’t quite what you expect.”

“Then how can I know what to look for?” asks the Mother.

“Keep your eyes open and your hand outstretched.”

When someone is drowning, their arms won’t be flailing. No dramatic yells or sound effects.

Their heads will be low with their mouths in the water.

Your baby won’t be crying, they don’t know how yet.

“Drowning doesn’t look like drowning,” says the Teacher. “Know the signs, they aren’t quite what you expect.”

“Then how can I know what to look for?” asks the Mother.

“Keep your eyes open and your hand outstretched.”

Their heads will tilt back and their mouths will be open. You’ll think they’re playing rough when they’re feeling like death.

It’ll look like they’re laughing as they’re taking in water.

Your baby won’t be screaming, they can’t do that yet.

“Drowning doesn’t look like drowning,” says the Teacher. “Know the signs, they aren’t quite what you expect.”

“Then how can I know what to look for?” asks the Mother.

“Keep your eyes open and your hand outstretched.”

Their eyes may be glassy and their pupils can’t focus. You’ll think they’re being moody when their hearts arrest.

Or their eyes may be closed as they shut you out.

Your baby won’t be begging, that’s the hardest test.

“Drowning doesn’t look like drowning,” says the Teacher. “Know the signs, they aren’t quite what you expect.”

“Then how can I know what to look for?” asks the Mother.

“Keep your eyes open and your hand outstretched.”

Their hair covers their forehead, blocking sight. They can’t use their legs to kick them upright.

Gasping for air, they can’t swim towards the light.

Momma hold your baby, but not too tight.

“Drowning doesn’t look like drowning,” says the Teacher. “Know the signs, they aren’t quite what you expect.”

“Then how can I know what to look for?” asks the Mother.

“Keep your eyes open and your hand outstretched.”

They’ll attempt to roll over, that’s the final sign. You’ll watch them try to break through the current and fight.

They’ll look like they’re climbing an invisible ladder.

If you taught them how to swim, they’ll probably be fine.

“Drowning doesn’t look like drowning,” says the Teacher. “Know the signs, they aren’t quite what you expect.”

“Then how can I know what to look for?” asks the Mother.

“Keep your eyes open and your hand outstretched.”

“How can I keep my child safe from harm?” the Mother cries. “I’ll teach them to fear the water and they’ll be alright.”

“Don’t be a fool,” answers the Teacher in kind. “You can’t protect them from the water, but you can know the signs.”

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