NOT A PLACE FOR SWIMMING

Image

Looking over the edge

Of the wrought iron footbridge

Across the River Thames

A relic of a river crossing

Gloss painted and pristine

Heralding from Victorian times

Harbours about its roots

Richmond Lock

 

Parents and I

Have paused

A barge waits patiently

For re-birth

Water level drops

Upstream

Toward Kew

The levels in the lock

Compensate

It seems impossible

This is magic to a child

 

Away from the lock

In the middle of

Old Father Thames

Surface water swirls

Makes a mish-mash

Gigantic snowflakes

Under a microscope

Blacks and greys

Merge to silver

As the light dictates

Frost on the inside

Of my bedroom window

Of a winters morn 

Is much the same

 

Those patterns though

Harbour danger

Not a place for swimming

Currents could drag you under

In no time

“What would you do if you saw a man drowning down there Dad?”

“Jump in and try to save him of course”

“You might drown though?”

“Maybe, but at least I’d have tried to save him”

Mother pipes up

“Don’t talk so stupidly Jim you must never take such a risk”

“Couldn’t just stand by and do nothing Kath”

“Promise me you would never try”

Silence

 

Mum is now worried

Dad sees no danger

In the hypothetical

Mum is stewing

Its potential reality

Over in her mind

Her good mood has left her

For the moment

I do not ever want to cross that bridge again

Do not want Dad to die

 

Dad breaks the silence

“Before the war my pals and I regularly used to jump off Kew Bridge and swim almost to the lock.  Never had any problems”

“Well that was just plain stupid.  What on earth made you want to do that?”

“Don’t know really, just a bit of fun”

 

Mum shakes her head

Yet keeps quiet

I have become withdrawn

She changes the subject

We go on our way

 

Fast-forward forty plus years

Christmas morning

A residential home

For the terminally bewildered

Dad is unwell

He does not really know

Where he is

The staff there tell 

He has been up all night

Wandering

Room to room

One old lady

Screamed 

He entered her quarters

Made her jump

No amorous intent

 

Right now

Lying on his bed

Fighting for breath

Through a sea of mucus

A doctor has been called

Await her arrival

Dad is missing out

On the festivities

In the communal area

It is Christmas Day

Everyone

Except Dad

Is happy

Carols are being sung

 

Watch him lying there

Excluded

Partly

Of his own volition

Spare pillow

On the chair aside his bed

Just him and me in the room

The thought crosses my mind

That I might suffocate him

That it would be doing

Both him and me a favour

It would be over with

In an instant

For a minute or so

I wish him dead

Then feel guilty

Giving such thought credence

I am not brave enough

To do it anyway

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8 thoughts on “NOT A PLACE FOR SWIMMING

  1. A tough one Mike. Goodness. I too have heard the thoughts, then felt guilty. Don’t know what to say except it really moved me.

    1. Difficult to reply as I am on this fucking tablet – back still bad etc – yet I guess you must be a been there done it man in your line of work! It must break your heart sometimes?

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