Saturday, 9 April 2011

Swimming and Sorrow

What to Do with Sorrow
Can I sing a short song to your sorrow?
I'll choose something with absolutely no sentiment
or, if you prefer, I'll just hum, or, I could tap
my fingers on the table in a light, lively rhythm
or, I could do just the middle-eight part of a folk song,
or something else bland. Really, a song might be nice.
Could I get it a coke, or a Ben and Jerry cone
or a cup of coffee or some taco chips?
Maybe just some water with ice?

I could take your sorrow out somewhere.
Maybe I could take it on a road trip with me,
if I could get a crash helmet to fit it.
I'd take it to the mountains on the back of my bike
and we could go camping, just for the weekend.
I've got a tent and we could drink cocoa
from tin mugs and tell each other stories,
really sad ones, by the campfire late at night.
I think your sorrow might like it a lot.
Sleeping in a tent and looking out through a flap
at the stars. Maybe even seeing a shooting star.
And I've got some of those self-inflating sleeping mats
which make all the difference. They really do.

Maybe I could take your sorrow out this afternoon.
I could take it swimming with me in the lake.
We could go on the bus so you wouldn't even need to drive us.
I could take my day pack with apples and soda and rope.
We could sun for a while and then make our way over the rocks
to the sandy part where we could splash near the shore.
Then we'd move out together and begin to swim laps.
Breast stroke and crawl, side stroke and back stroke,
and then go further out to the middle where the water's deep
and we'd smell the water while we swam.

Do you remember how the water smells?
a bit like mud and a bit like dying reeds
and plants and a bit like fallen petals of water lilies.
It smells like turtles and fish and water snakes
and bottoms of row boats and the wet wood of canoes
and it smells like the bugs that skate on it
and like everything that's rotting on the bottom.
You remember how the water smells.
Don't worry about us at all.
Your sorrow will be safe with me.
I don't think we'll be back early.
Go ahead and eat without us.

Linda Chase 
from The Wedding Spy (Carcanet, 2001)


  1. oh thank you for asking... but it's just that old publishing thing, once it's on here it's done for. Just had two rejections this week but VERY nice comments, - 'not this issue but send us more' - so I'm dusting meself down and getting the next batch ready to go.....