Suddenly tranquillity –
floating after drowning –
caught between realities
in the bitter waters of
unrealized dreams and private fears,
fighting the urge to panic.
Panting with fear –
now you're there –
where you thought you wanted to be.
But in the dark you give up hope
and let the waters take you.
27 April 1986
This is the fourth of the Drowning Man Poems. I have no memories concerning this poem. I couldn’t tell you when it was started or where or what prompted it. I wasn’t depressed when I wrote this although I may well have been down, scunnered as we Scots say which is probably closer to pissed off than anything else but it’s a wonderful word. I have been depressed and for years but even in my worst depressions there will be these moments when the fog clears and you wonder what you did right so you can maybe do it again the nest time things start to get extra bad. Of course you did nothing. There are no magic words or gestures. Sometimes the fog lifts and the best advice I can give anyone when it does is to make the most of it because it won’t last (until one day it does last and you realise the depression is over).
For weeks I’d been struggling with a single question: What do I feel? I can say that now. Now it seems to be obvious what the question was but not then. All I knew was that I was drowning in emotions, downing but not dying. Being lost in the fog would’ve been a better metaphor—no one dies from contact with fog itself—but you write what you write and try to make sense out of it later.
Don’t like that I used ‘fear’ twice in quick succession. Should’ve caught that.