Drowning by Alexis Cannard Portland Youth Poet Laureate

they say
keep your head up baby don’t worry
but it’s hard when your vision gets blurry

they say
don’t trip it’s not a big deal
but here’s what they don’t understand

it’s hard when you feel
like the world’s caving in
I’m drowning
I’m counting
the seconds minutes hours
until somebody saves me
but I’m stranded
I can’t be helped by anyone but myself

I might be swimming for awhile

I’ve got to take care of myself
once I make it
I’ve got to get ahold of the reality I lost
and watch it unfold
with the people I love
they’re still here for me
even though in that moment
I felt like I was all alone
like a blade and my tears
were the only options
sharper than Poseidon’s trident
and flooding his castle

this anxiety was fiery
and filled the capacity of my body
entirely
defiantly

this insanity left me in a rivalry
silently between myself and reality

I am trapped

at the bottom of the ocean
my lungs are filled to the brim
with salinized water
which way is up
which way is down
when I breach the surface
there’s no telling how powerful I’ll be

I’ll glow brighter
than the sun’s reflection on that ocean
the way it glimmers when the waves blow over
but I’m also as intense as those rolling waves
crashing to shore
colliding with the world
like there’s nothing to lose
no bruises but maybe scars
and they’ll fade away just as the tides change

the gravitational pull of my loved ones
is the moon to the ocean
they keep me going
keep me alive to survive and thrive
to understand and learn
no longer will I need to keep a knife

because love and wisdom
are the only lethal weapons I need

no longer
will I let this quicksand of quiet consume me
I will be a wisdom warrior
a contortionist of compassion
a liaison for love

a life preserver
a better person

this is a thank you
a thank you to those who have stood by me
when I didn’t want to be standing at all
who have helped me realize
the world before my eyes
can yes be cruel

but it is also the world
that has the potential
to allow me to push my passion
and pursue my purpose
to let me ride the waves of the world
without a care

yes keep your head up baby
don’t worry
I know it’s hard when your vision gets blurry
but I won’t say
it’s not a big deal
because you feel like drowning
and counting
the seconds minutes hours
until somebody saves you
I will be your lifeguard
you just have to keep your head above water
and eventually
you will realize
you are a wisdom warrior
a contortionist of compassion
a liaison for love
a life preserver
and your feelings are as valid and real
as anyone else’s

just remember to breathe
because these currents
won’t slow down for anyone
and sharks
will always be searching for blood

but if you need it
I can always be
your title wave of love

Sofia Snow