Treading Water

a poem by
ANTHONY D’AMBROSIO | Filmmaker + Writer

This poem was written about the thirst for meaning that comes during the experience of grief.

Photo by Alexander Possingham

LAST night I dreamt,
treading water in my bed,
as if black waves
crashed in when I switched off my light.
Now I pump
The exhausting circles, waiting for rest–
For a blossoming of dawn
unlike these far away mornings
that do not bring peace or land…

I wake moaning
for when the orange blossoms’ fragrances
Let themselves in through the windows
And those words, “I love you”
Enter like doves,
faint and naked… sheer,
Almost invisible from the void,
And all the past meaninglessnesses
Along with this one
are subsumed again,
As I am lashed to the indisputable scent.

But now in my aimless bobbing,
under a churning ceiling fan
and Abraham’s vast sky of promises,
the distant constellations
spread out as a useless map to empty islands,
scratched and blotted out–
Ports that will no longer admit me,
Islands with once glorious gardens
whose keepers vanished without warning.

Will the voice in that morning
When parched lips cannot even lift even a groan,
And the thirst is so close to me,
That it is who I am…
Will she wait till I am perched on the very edge of the world,
careening off its very ledge, at that moment
In glee, sound out to the stars to come out of their hiding places,
And unfurl in the heavens
the unseen way,
a procession of death towards light.

Show him, will then cry the cherub,
How his screams of inconsolable grief were necessary
to set his dripping feet upon the promised earth.
Grief, the power that let the orphan Arthur
Draw the sword-
When all the dukes who had not tread the nights like he had
Could only tug at the immortal metal.

But now there is no breeze in the window,
Or any sound but the rhythmic clinking of the fan
And I tread
And tread

And tread


Enjoy more of Anthony’s work at The Lions Chest.