Poem: Arms Against the Oars

Arms Against The Oars

The second of September and you breathe in the air.
It is cool. Autumn-like. Early this year.
Summer still, and yet already leaves have begun
their annual coloring. Here and there
a few have fallen, their color
punctuating the ground.

The tide begins to rise.
Soon the flotsam of the low lying places
will be covered again. The water
will rise. Higher and higher.
You will have to move.
The smell of the salt marshes will dissipate,
replaced by salt alone.

This has been your life for too long.
Your time of healing has left you
more willing to rise and fall with the lunar whims,
with your pain, or lack of it, and the uncertainty
it brings. It is safer, riding the tides.
It takes less strength.

You flex your arms. Stretch them.
You meditate. You remember.
A time when you were stronger,
when you rowed your boat against the time,
at times to get to new places,
at times, simply to grow strong.
Fear and pain were enemies to overcome,
to fight. The soreness and pain meant growth.
Vigor. Arms against the oars.
Shoulders against the tide.

The tide begins to rise.
The air is thick. You can smell the sea,
and instead of pulling your small boat
higher on the beach, you drag it to the water.
There are journeys to make,
even when the destination is uncertain,
It is time to reverse, not the sea’s tide,
but your own.

About this poem

The popular phrase is “Go with the flow.”. Far easier. But my own growth has always come when I rowed against the tide, against my own pain and fears. I just have to remind myself of this now and again.


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