Pagosa Springs Artists

I Thought I Was Dying, But All I Could Hear Was Laughing


The bay was perfectly round, nestled
among verdant hills, the ocean surging
into that cove on huge rollers sweeping
to shore in a rushing arc of heaving foam,
tons of water thundering as it hit the beach,
wave remnants scurrying up the sandy slope
in lacey swirls before dying in their retreat.

My brother and I were boogie-boarding
the waves, riding to shore time after time
on the long surge of power pushing along
in each ocean swell. Dad stood nearby
in waist-deep seawater watching our fun.

Feeling the water pull back out under you
signals that a wave is building up behind;
you must be ready to leap onto your board
when the swell arrives, swept forward as
it carries you along, folding over and over
on top of itself while continuing to bear you
firmly toward shore, taking you on a fine
ride until it rolls up onto the beach.

Suddenly a large wave crashed too early,
smashing right on top of me, sending me
lurching into the churning sand bottom.
My board shot straight up out of the water
like a rocket as I was caught in a powerful
whirlpool of churning, crashing, smashing
undertow. I tasted saltwater and saw only
swirling sand. I could not tell where up was,
how deep I was, nor which direction shore was.

I thought I was dying, but all I could hear was
my Dad laughing.


first published in The Rockford Review

also published in Poetry Atlas

©2013 Bonnie Manion


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