One of the signs of relying on one’s own deeds is the loss of hope when a downfall occurs.
—Al Hikam of Ibn Ibn ‘Ata’illah
How to be honest about this?—
The mind with its revisionist self,
all intention & ego. You want to say
something about your heart, the soul,
faith or even Faith, but maybe
you begin before: those last months
in your poet house, hidden bottles &
boxes, drinking sprees in closets, stumbling
through city streets, the landscape
a blur that terrified in its familiar.
Your best friend in another city,
hometown of breweries & corner bars,
had been for years seeking solace
in church basements late nights,
work weeks, holidays. Her effervescence
could not be contained by rooms or steps.
Long distance you watched her swim
against that tide until exhausted, she let go.
After the funeral, you resolved to practice
until you believed. Five times prayer,
ebullience as default. How many times had
she said, “Hi my name is , & I am”—
& still, always already, thirsted for more.
To choose the buoy is not to say you can’t
swim. To wake before dawn, immerse
the body in water, kneel, & give thanks
is to say something about the body,
mind, your soul, memory—practicing
faith, at first counterintuitive,
is how to survive the riptide—
relax, move with the current, believe in
the existence of an imperceptible shore.
Kirsten Hemmy’s first book, The Atrocity of Water, was a Tom Lombardo selection (Press 53, 2010). Her work has recently appeared in CaKe, The Alaska Quarterly Review, Antiphon, Compose Journal, Glass, The Comstock Review, and elsewhere. A featured TedX speaker and former Fulbright Fellow, Hemmy teaches creative writing and poetry at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman.