I almost drowned once down near the mill swimming the current of the Coquet three quarters of the way across my legs lost power against the undertow I’m lucky Peck kept his eyes on me as the river reeds wrapped around ankles my head bobbing up and down like a braeburn on bonfire night and the rest of the boys jumped back in like working-class Hasselhoffs and pulled me to the side they were much stronger swimmers than me
a quick rest and pat on the back spitting up some of the river then swigging back some calming Carling the realisation – dawned on me – I had to swim back facing a new fear head on because backstroke was no good I’m lucky I’ve got such great mates we swam back together like geese fly – in formation – reaching the riverbank’s safety and although my swimming didn’t improve that day my character did.
Thanks for taking the time to read my poem, an autobiographical piece of my younger days.
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As teenagers we swam the river at 4 in the morning the cold pink pre-dawn watched us flail our underage drunken legs unsteady in the calm water feeble attempts to wash away the taint of cheap vodka, value cola and sleeping bag sourness
we were like calves breaking away from the protection of our parents arrogant and unwise to the world we thought we knew best but even the young Shorthorns upstream had more sense than us because they knew better than to bathe in others shit
I don’t know whose idea it was for all of us to jump in fully clothed probably Dave’s – he was partial to a plan – and vomit he was a puppet king of sorts living in the shadow of the castle
we were a sight walking the back lanes to drip dry crumpled kids carrying crumpled tents and crushed up sleeping bags stumbling home without words spoken the only sound heard was the clanging of dragging pegs and poles chittering out a slurred morse code that forces a gang of grins a simple message – ‘Same again next week’.
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