John O'Donnell

John O'Donnell, Barrister, Poet and Author

Swim

Swim

Don’t loiter in the shallows. Just wade in:

slowly if you want at first, but not too slow.

Embrace the chill of it, brimming up around you;

feel it seep into your skin. Keep going further,

deeper, even though you’ve no idea of what’s

down there, or what you might come up with.

Stretch yourself. Inhale the amniotic stink; become

weightless, a raft of sinew, limb. Soon you’ll be

out of sight of everything you’ve left behind,

buoyant and adrift amid its scales and echoes.

Don’t panic. All that you can see is all that matters.

So don’t look back. And don’t give in. Take this breath

and then, when I’d insisted I was ready, let me go,

without ever really letting go, although I did think

as if it were your last, and then the next

the same. Put your head down. Now, swim.

– John O’Donnell