Alternate Breath by TJ Wiley, 2013

I’m already in over my head
treading lightly, waiting for you
reader, to swim out, join me
where you cannot touch.

But how can you trust me
not to fill your pockets
with the bricks of mourning,
sands of an abused childhood or
an anchor of barnacled love
(so many word-sailors lost to that brine).

These words formed wet
in some waved harbor of Sound
will come to you from a dry page
in a dry room where you haven’t
even thought about your next breath

until now.
But believe me when I tell you
even the bones that hold you up
are 22% water, and doesn’t that
make you just a little wary
of your blue-marble world
which spins and hangs from nothing?

We all begin with a crawl stroke
pulling toward the horizon—
that seam where life and darkness join
beyond our high-elbow reach.
Jump. The sea’s surface cries and sings
at every wave’s white break.
This is why we must learn to breathe
on both sides of our bodies.

TJ Wiley


Written one year after Teresa “escaped” from Alcatraz and published in Floating Bridge Review, No. 6.  She is a long time swimmer who can be often seen swimming in Useless Bay and Saratoga passage.