Valerie Loveland



FREE DIVER

Humans evolved from oceans; babies wear
evidence: gill slits, while they wait
to be born.

Just because we evolved out
doesnít mean we canít evolve back in:
water is harmless; some forget

when they earn the inky squeeze
after crossing the thermocline.
I scoff when I hear ďlong-term risksĒ

and the warnings from my doctor -ó
he used to say humans canít dive deeper
than 100 meters.

I keep a vacant stomach, make room
when my insides crowd and pinch:
lungs fold in, everything so compacted

blood seeps in through lung walls. No gear,
and a mantra: donít breathe, donít
breathe.

The voice who used to plead for air
finally shut up
(drowned).

My organs used to squabble over oxygen,
but now Iím so good I can sleep
all night on one breath.

My body finds comfort in stories
of its nautical ancestors.
Even the ocean wants us back:

in a panic to swim up from the dark,
other divers donít recognize what clings
to their ankles on the way to the surface.




Valerie Loveland works as a receptionist at a pet resort in Austin, Texas. To read more of her poems, visit her website: valerieloveland.com.







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