by Lydia Havens
I have never been good at carrying water.
Or swimming. Or becoming one with
any kind of body. I was almost born in
a teal Volvo, the rain coming down
so anxiously on the way to the hospital
it only made my mother contract more.
The first time I almost drowned, it was in
a pool at a family barbecue. My mother
jumped in fully clothed to save me.
The second time was in the Pacific Ocean
on Christmas Eve. The strongest wave
pulled me down, then carried me back
to shore, as if it, too, was overcome by
a maternal instinct. The third time
was in my own bathtub. I was almost thirteen,
and sick of feeling stuck in that sea of brain sickness.
That day, I learned I am not only not good
at swimming, I am also not good at dying.
I held my breath for a minute, then let
my skin meet the surface again as I remembered
everything I had left to live for. My thirteenth birthday,
only eight days away. My family. The possible day
woman learns how to breathe underwater.
I wrapped myself in a towel, overcome by
something. A maternal instinct of some sort,
but for myself. These stories have a few
different points: my mother has saved me
multiple times, even if she doesn’t know it.
I have saved myself multiple times, even if
I don’t know it. I was born on the cusp
of the Water Bearer and the Fish, and if I should
ever have children that I am not afraid of having,
they will not come into the world by broken fluid
or iced-over city. They will not be born trembling,
terrified of the damage they will bring into
this universe. They will be born with their heads
above the water. So help me God, I will always
see to that.