cover of 2022 spring issue

By TIIA MCKINNEY

Sparkling dark blue waters violently crashed over my head,
They pinned me under their strong currents, forcefully grabbing me in a chokehold
I desperately inhaled, trying to taste the salty air on my tongue, 
Instead salty water crashed past 
my lips, over my tongue, to the back of my throat, past my tonsils,

I frantically inhaled hoping that in one of my gasps I would taste the air again, 
that I would break the surface of the water, 
But I kept going deeper, and deeper, 
farther out to the horizon 
The tides dragged me across the abrasive sand until I was too far out to feel the ground 
Then my body just floated loosely in the cold waters, 
moving only by the violent currents around me 

Yet I saw the blue again, the dark blue overtook my vision and I stopped trying to inhale,
I stopped trying desperately to clutch the sand beneath my toes to help me stand still
I allowed my body to float loosely
And each second, each second grew and
the fire in my lungs grew, like a match set to a forest, 
And even though I was still young in the world,
I imagined that for a second the dark waves would be my last image of it 

My little heart pounded into my chest, and I felt a thumping in my throat 
With the churning salty waters 
my head pounded, matching the panic rising in my chest and
While my heart wished to break the surface,
my body began accepting an inevitable fate of darkness,
And I began to sink further into sorrow

I wondered if my family had remembered me,
and if anyone would notice when the waters turned violent,
I hoped that someone would come to rescue me,
That I would not be reduced to tangles of lifeless debris 
that floated beneath my feet 

Then I felt a hand grab my own and pull me away from the water’s grasp,
I gasped my first breath of air in what felt like an eternity 
my nose burned and I sputtered and gasped, 
but I was home, free from the strong tides that I thought would keep me.
At last I broke the surface, my cousin kept my hand in hers, leading me to shore
My body felt limp and I could still feel the waters swaying me side to side,
But I was finally safe.  


Tiia McKinney ’25 is a staff writer
tmckinney@amherst.edu