The Swimming Lesson
Feeling the icy kick, the endless waves
Reaching around my life, I moved my arms
And coughed, and in the end saw land.
Somebody, I suppose
Remembering the medieval maxim,
Had tossed me in,
Had wanted me to learn to swim,
Not knowing that none of us, who ever came back
From that long lonely fall and frenzied rising,
Ever learned anything at all,
About swimming, but only
How to puff up, one by one,
Dreams and pity, love and grace,—
How to survive in any place.
— Mary Oliver