underwater respite

warm water runs in rivulets down my back. in the liquid heat, i stretch my shoulders, hamstrings and calves. try to touch my hands to the enamel until they're completely flat. though i come close, i can't—yet. i want to be more limber and forgiving. my body, mind and spirit, more pliant. like some young bodies and brains. plastic. like a river when it meets rocky resistance—it just flows right over.

in recent days—in great part due to this runaway pandemic—i feel brittle. my patience stretched to its limits, my mood at times slightly hardened by a boy who occupies my every daytime wandering, irks my nerves, disturbs my slumber. i don't want to be or become rigid, above all on the inside. don't want to be wound so tight i'll break. want to feel like i do when walking barefoot on a stretch of beach or stepping off a plane in the west where the weather is mild and the skies are big. want to feel relaxed again, want to be able to fully expand my chest. i'm not back there yet. but at least i remain open, fairly flexible and compassionate. i can be grateful for that. but i want to bend better in life's tempests, like a sapling—tender. green. resilient.

in these long days spent with a wordless child, i can at least find a little space—in-between his feedings, bathing, diaper changing and desperate embracing—to wonder and reflect. besides my writing, behind the wheel and in the shower are where i find respite and time to introspect. there's a zone i can enter where I dream, but also ask myself things like: am i too impatient? too reflexive? reactive? impassioned? selfish? desperate? petty? apathetic? what's in store for me ahead?

i know i should be in ways more like calvin. more forgiving and forgetting. not disapproving. unconditionally loving. not contemptuous or resentful. less judgmental. like flat hands to the bottom of the bathtub, i'll keep trying to get closer.

calvin is in bed, its panels and netted canopy secured for his protection; the source of my angst—his safe keeping—literally tamped down. in the room next door, the water soothes and softens me. long, hot showers are my escape. i grant myself the luxury since so many other indulgences are impossible, especially in a pandemic. underwater has always been for me a comfortable space. it's where i'm compelled to do exactly nothing but to sway in the stream hoping to somehow drown out my son's grunts and shrieks chirping from the baby monitor, which is perched like a bird on the edge of the sink.

Photo by Michael Kolster

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