for Shelby Stephenson, who asked
me…Why do you FEEL you do not like water?
After watching "Creature from the Black
I never got deeper than my ankles in any lake
or pond again.
Though I loved the sea in Devon, it was because
I could lean against the whole of England. I
knew it had my back.
I grew up surrounded by the Great Lakes. Went
boating on Lake Avalon every summer.
Now, my feet shudder if they are not on terra
I can’t ice-skate or ride escalators
gracefully. I become
Alice fighting the Jabberwock after an ice
I like to fly though. Must be my avian
I came from no ocean floor. My curiosity
under waves became relegated to field guides.
I would move from pool to pool
as the spirit prompted
feed off dawn and dusk
a water haunter, fooling around
diving, rolling, racing—built to claw at mud.
Not a creature of the sea
Cambrian in my blood no Silurian for me.
Everything was under before the dinosaurs.
I need banks cradling, wild unfettered
river-willful and insistent as the Otter —
my evolution peaked.
So to liberate my fear! let me be an Otter
between earthen boundaries —
slide over ledges, slip between boulders.
In night chilled air my breath
sends up a long cloud of white vapor turning
pink in the rays of the rising sun.
JENNY BATES, North Carolina. Member of Winston-Salem
Writers. NC Poetry Society, NC Writers Network. Published books
include, Coyote with Coffee (Catbird on the Yadkin Press, NC
2014). Visitations (Hermit Feathers Press, NC 2019). Slip
(Hermit Feathers Press, NC 2020). Known local animal whisperer to
Donkeys, Coyotes and Crow Folk. Jenny currently resides
in Stokes Co., NC adjacent to Hanging Rock State Park
Danish Combat Swimmers Course
WE HAD TWO British SAS sergeants going through
the Danish Combat Swimmers Course with us. Everything you’ve heard
about how tough these guys are, multiply it by five. We were
preparing to hit the water to start the final 10K swim, and I could
tell one of the SAS guys wasn’t quite himself. Brockelman told me
that our SAS friend was coming down with pneumonia. He was wheezing
and looked pale. I walked up to him and suggested that he sit this
swim out. It would mean he’d not graduate, and he’d hear nothing
Ron Brockelman, my
Team Sergeant, and I were the Team’s two strongest swimmers, so we
normally were swim buddies. But for that 6 mile swim, I hooked into
the SAS guy. We started out fine, but after a couple of miles, he
began to fade. We were lagging back well into the middle of the
The Danes would pull
up along side us in their rubber boat and ask if something was
wrong. We’d wave them off. They knew about the pneumonia, but
wouldn’t pull the guy out unless he asked. It eventually got to
the point that he was of no help. In fact, he was barely able to
kick enough to keep himself parallel to the surface. I finned on,
determined to pull both of us through and not be the last ones in.
We finally made it to
the end and crawled out of the water. All the SAS guy said to me
was, "Sir, you know I’d have done the same for you." No
"thank you" was offered, and none was expected. I’d
always held the SAS in high regard, but never more so than at that
The course ended, and
after 3 month overseas we flew home to Ft. Devens, MA. Polly met me
at the door of our duplex, Tee on her hip. I immediately reached out
to him, but instead of holding out his little arms to me and
smiling, he shrunk away, tucking his face into Polly’s neck. He
didn’t recognize me. This moment is forever burned into my brain.
Just like when I found out that Kennedy had been assassinated or
when I heard on the radio that John Wayne had died. But I was home
again. At least for a little while.
TOM DAVIS’ publishing credits include Poets
Forum, The Carolina Runner, Triathlon Today, Georgia Athlete, The
Fayetteville Observer’s Saturday Extra, A Loving Voice Vol. I and
II, Special Warfare., and Winston-Salem Writers’ POETRY IN
PLAIN SIGHT program for 2013 and 2021. He has authored several
books. Tom, A retired Special Forces soldier, has completed his
memoir, The Most Fun I ever Had With My Clothes: On A March from
Private to Colonel. He lives in Sylva, NC.