In the RIver


United States
44° 59' 40.1532" N, 93° 17' 54.2328" W

I am in a river and the current has caught me
under my feet and is sweeping me downstream.
I try to gasp for air, but I can't tell which way is up.
Which way is down.

My feet scrape against the rocky, sandy surface of the bottom.
I open my eyes, and in the swirling currents and debris I can see that it is
shallow enough to stand up in.
I could stand up and it would all be over.
But the current is too strong.

Again, a swirl pulls my head back and I lose all sense of direction.
As I am pulled farther and farther downstream,
I see old fallen rocks and trees that had the same misfortune to tumble into the water
but were fortunate enough to become forever lodged in one place in the river.
They found a place of rest, even in the darkest, most turbulent of rivers.
I do not envy their rest, for they have are trapped in hell.

As they scrape my flailing arms and fear-stricken face, I try desperately to grab hold
of something.
Anything to slow myself down and keep me
from the ever widening river that rushes faster and faster.
But my hands are only ripped and torn by their rough edges.

The rushing water has not smoothed the rock, as rounded pebbles in the ocean,
but rather, the surging currents have carved out treacherously sharp edges,
waiting to ensnare and destroy anything that passes by.

All that I manage to hold on to is the sandy residue
that has been caught under my fingernails
as I desperately try to grab hold of something solid.
Something secure.
But I cannot.

Now I cannot hold my breath any longer.
Do I give in and let my body take the fatal gasp
of water that it so desperately calls for?
Or do I carry on, praying, hoping that the river will relent
or someone will see my struggle and take pity?

The currents around me begin to blur and a haze takes over
what little I could make out
among the torrents of the bitingly cold water.
I cannot continue. I cannot make it.

What will happen if I just give in?
Soon there will be no choice.
Soon the river will take me and I will become one of the calloused, fatally sharp rocks.
I will become unaware of the torture of the river,
but the pain will persist.
The pain will always persist.

Now I sit, waiting for the next victim
to be swept by my deathly edges.
He reaches out, begging for my help, but the river has made me
too numb with pain to help another.

Now I am nothing.
I am nothing but a tool, a weapon used by the river.
It laughs its cruel cackle as it continues to rush past me;
it delights in my misery
of being subjected to inflict on others the pain
that brought me to where I am.
Where I will be forever.
In the river.

Guide that inspired this poem: 


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