Poetry: ‘Holding On’

Graphic Joey Bruce

I never let my guard down. 

I did as I was told.

I did for others.

I did what I knew was right.


But the mist slowly crept in, perhaps without notice.

The deck grew slippery.

It took effort to stay upright—effort I provided,



Then something pushed me overboard.

Without warning. Where was the warning? 

It had sounded, but I was deaf. 

They came as a shock—the sudden cold, the icy waters. 


I fought. First in disbelief, then for survival,

But to no avail. I needed to succumb. 

But succumb to what? My undoing?



The cold numbed me, providing a reprieve.

I held on to an ice floe, resting. 

Time to think, to adjust, to breathe.

But the heat of my body melted it away. 

My own body, working against me. 


Now what?

Fight, flail, yell, only to expend valuable energy. 

Ice floe after ice floe.

A pattern. 


Strength and weakness.


I see land—a distance seemingly impossible.

My mind is powerful. 

It remembers the weakness. 

Tricks me into believing I can’t. 


Ice floe after ice floe. 

Strength and weakness. 


But is it a trick? Perhaps it's just my reality. 

I float on my back, taking in the blue above. 

I can rest this way. 

My body won’t fail me now. 


My reality. Strength and weakness. 

And acceptance. 

Stop the fight. 

I fill the ocean with my tears. 


Read more: Poetry: ‘Edges, Lows’

Read more: Poetry: ‘Family’