Kelli Russell Agodon
On the Charm Bracelet of Life, Dying is the Shape of Driftwood
Because prayer is not a lifeguard and the waves keep lapping over the rocks, all the flowers are salty and wilting in the summer sun. How do you spell drowning? Depending on your height, it’s the size of the ocean you stand in. That summer was more than a puddle. That fall, a sea pulling me down. The man who held my hipbone and pulled me under could have been eelgrass, could have been
a hungry shark, a riptide, could have been what lurks beneath deep waters and swims near us when we think we’re alone.
Because prayer is flotation device, I kept talking to god. I sacrificed my body because that’s what anxiety does — Lent as starvation: what won’t kill you but make you thinner. Better to be a gull, ready to break open whatever you need. Better to be a wave, taking the space it wants. But sometimes you live part of your life as the driftwood, you wonder if you’re floating, you wonder if you’re already gone.