Breathing Under Water

I built my house by the sea
Not on the sand, mind you.
Not on the shifting sand.
And I built it out of rock.
A strong house by a strong sea.

And we got well acquainted---
the sea and I-----good neighbors.
not that we spoke much.
we met in silences:
respectful, keeping our distance,
but always,
our thoughts across the fence of sand,
always the fence of sand our barrier,
always the sand between.

And then, one day---
And I still don't know just how it happened---
The sea came without warning,
without welcome even.
Not sudden and swift,
but a shifting across the sand
like wine,
Less like the flow of water
than the flow of blood.
Slow, but coming,
Slow, but flowing like an open wound.

And I thought of flight.
And I thought of drowning.
And I thought of death.
And, while I thought,
the sea crept higher,
till it reached my door.
and I knew then
there was neither flight,
nor death,
nor drowning.

For when the sea comes calling,
you stop being good neighbors:
friendly at a distance
sort of neighbors.
And you give your house
for a pearl castle.
And you learn to breathe under water.

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