Man Dons Scuba Gear, Saves Wife in Flood

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Man Dons Scuba Gear, Saves Wife in Flood
by Jennifer L. Freed


“Not willing to wait until the government or any international organization did, or did not, arrive to rescue his wife of two decades…Akaiwa got hold of some scuba gear. He then hit the water…”
Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times, 3/17/11

What does he know, as he sets out?
Could she already be beyond
his help, her body floating
even now, ghostly
white, shimmerings on her pale skin
as on the smooth shells of drowned cars?
Swimming from the new-made shore, not knowing
what he’ll find, he knows
that he must move, keep
moving,
the steady rhythm of his flippered feet calming
him in this strange world
where dead fish glisten
and slap against the eaves
of houses, catch
alongside books and coffee cups,
in floating webs
of lampposts, fence posts, telephone wires.

And when he finds his way inside what was
his home, when he swims above the floor
on which his children learned to walk, sees
the order of his life tossed
into jumbled piles – a cell phone
caught within the strings of a guitar,
a wedding photo
floating toward the stairs –
he does not dare
to dwell;
he moves, keeps
moving, seeking
out the higher place, the air,
the hope,
and still, he does not know a thing: Not
that he will find her. Not
that she is standing even now
atop a sturdy chair atop a desk beside a window.
Not
that he will bring her out of danger, that they will
lie together in the night
and trace with tender fingers
collar bones and shoulder bones and cheek bones,
that they will grasp again the blessings
of warm skin,
and gasp at the treasure
of their own mingled breath.
He does not know
as he sets out,
as he moves on,
what dread or joy may come,
and yet,
as in our own ways we all do,
he pushes on.

1 thought on “Man Dons Scuba Gear, Saves Wife in Flood

  1. Awesome perspective piece. I liked how the author took a news headline and really got into the mind of the scuba man and what he might be feeling. But the poem also had such a descriptive setting that I believed it. Great read!

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