flotation device; or, another gloomy poem

one time,

before all this,

i came across a thoughtful cartoon


that said that if you were reading by a pool

and you felt someone splashing you, you’d probably be annoyed,

but if you looked up and realized that the person who was splashing you

was actually drowning,

you wouldn’t be annoyed anymore,


you’d jump in and help,

of course,

and people with Depression are just like that.


i remember one night in your apartment

i stayed up all night shouting at you,


because you kept saying you were sorry,

and i didn’t think you knew what sorry meant.

and the next day i found out you didn’t remember that,

none of it.

and i had spent 4 hours fighting an unconscious man,

so who was worse, really?

what was that year but me screaming into a pile of blankets,

convincing myself that i was valiant?

who’s worse? at least you never claimed to be good for anyone,

not like me.

and what good did i do with that year?

nothing, i did nothing, not one fucking thing.

i wanted to feel like i was saving you and that’s what you wanted too,

and we just spent the year making shadow puppets against a wall

till my arms got tired,

and then i wasn’t enough either.


and then,


i remembered another thing i’d heard about drowning people:

that if you ever saw one,

you were supposed to call for help, or throw something to them,

but you were never, ever supposed to get in the water with them,

because a drowning person will push you under, just to keep breathing.

it’s not a conscious choice, just something the body does,

anything to keep itself floating, no matter what,

even if you’re trying to help,

that person will drown you, too, they can’t help it.


i don’t think you meant it,

who could think you meant it?

i’m not trying to blame a sleeping person for not listening,

or a drowning person for trying to breathe.

but i think one day i opened my eyes,

and i was under the water,

and you were standing on top of me,

asking why nobody cared.


my mistake was trying to be your life preserver,

wanting to be, really, if we’re being honest.

i’d never gotten to be a savior before.

but the thing that occurred to me,

only much, much later, is that

the difference between me and a life preserver

is that a life preserver doesn’t need to fucking breathe.



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