If only I could breathe under water I'd dive in and drink the liquid like sky, stay under for a spell drenching myself in the cool dark spaces that lurk at my feet. Then, I'd ride the thermals in a deadman's float, my fingers and toes trailing through the reeds and silt making marks like claws.

Underwater I'd forget about my son's seizures, his screaming spells, our sleepless nights, my exhaustion, worry, angst, dread, fear, my despair. Underwater I'd drift alongside smooth wooden boughs, and let myself get caught in beautiful eddies, but only for a while. Somehow, there'd be music down there with me, marimba for sure and perhaps velvety brass and some strings, happily pinging away as I pass over rocks and between sunken trees that look to me like ghosts or skeletons or both. And from that music I'd cry invisible tears.

Perhaps I'd come face to face with a catfish or an eel. Maybe we'd kiss each other in solidarity of life's hardships, hers from the hunger and the hook, mine from the messed-up brains of my son and my mother, both of which tug and tear at me until I'm raw.

I read this to my husband and he tells me how strange it is that when he took this photo he watched a large fish serpentine its way against the current up the channel. I'm swimming upstream, I think, and have been for a while. Good thing I'm a strong swimmer, the water being my second home. I know when to fight it and I know when to give in and simply let it take me under, if only for a spell.

Rio Grande, photo by Michael Kolster


  1. The photos are breathtaking. Will there be a book?

    1. a book is forthcoming on four rivers: the androscoggin, the james, the schuylkill and the savannah.

  2. so apt....the writing and the picture. Bless you!

  3. For me, sleeping is always about being underwater. I need to sink below the surface. A few anti-depressants left me just on the surface of the water with no way to sink below the surface and truly rest.

    I love being underwater because all of the sound are muffled, everything is gentler, touch included. I'm glad you survived your husband's trip away. It's not easy.

  4. I can't wait for both of your books.