why am i drowning

why am i drowning 
by Jennifer Miller

I strip off my life jacket and feel it drop to my naked feet.
It will be hard to swim without its aid,
but at least I won’t be seen in it.
I won’t be seen as different.

With a slosh, the water is spilling over my toes.
It’s not the water I’m scared of, it’s what’s inside the water.
It’s the people inside the water that are splashing around
without life jackets on.

I sit down and sling my legs over the side,
bumps riseup my thighs as the water caresses my skin.
The normalcy of this water is comforting.
I almost forget that I don’t have a life jacket on.

I lower myself into the chilling water,
my heart pounding in my ears.
I start to feel it dragging me down.
With every stroke, the water grips and pulls at my skin.

I have lost control of my muscles.
I’m telling my body what to do, but it won’t listen.
It can’t hear me because the water is filling its ears.

I’m screaming at my body to respond,
but its mouth is full of chlorine.
I wish I didn’t leave help lying on the cold tile,
all the way above water.

I keep drowning; I can feel my lungs exploding
against the inside of my chest.
Why am I drowning?

I make all the correct motions to swim up,
but my body doesn’t want help.
It’s easier to stay down here.

I wish I could float, just like everybody else.
I close my eyes and open my mouth
in surrender.

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