Caught in the Undertow

Caught in the Undertow_1

Caught in the Undertow

Caught in the Unadertow_2Direction undecided, a leaf floats
on a narrow stream that trickles
over loose stone, approaches a side channel
in the bedrock, the product of years
of heavy rain. Water must flow, underground
when presented with solid rock. I watch
the leaf emerge to rejoin the stream.

There’s a hole in my heart. Hidden from
prying eyes, it provides a shortcut, one taken
at high risk. By a broad stroke of luck,
that risk paid off for most of a lifetime.
But blood must flow. If it carried a leaf
to the brain, what thoughts might it bring?
I know those thoughts, as I know that leaf.

I’ve taken shortcuts, felt drawn by currents
beyond my control. Directions I’ve taken,
decisions I’ve made, have brought changes
I should have had the foresight to predict.
Drawn this way by my heart, I’m still drawn
that way by thoughts that have always flowed
beneath the surface, waiting to emerge.

With this poem, I tried to connect three thoughts: a rock formation in a stream that runs beside a trail I frequently walk, my recently discovered PFO (“hole in my heart”), and the fact that not seeing my granddaughters (6 months old & 2 ½ years old) is a consequence of my move to MO 9 years ago.

Shared with dVerse – Open Link Night 293.

49 thoughts on “Caught in the Undertow

  1. It’s interesting how you tied these three things together in your poem. I appreciate the theme of feeling like that drifting leaf and drawn by currents out of your control. Life is sometimes surprising, and we can only do so much planning.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful poem, Ken. I love your use of a leaf flowing with the stream under the rock. The reference to a clot reaching the brain. I do agree that we will always take paths that are considered right .. or wrong.
    I too have a ‘hole in the heart’ 😊


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Miriam.
      My doctor told me, “You made it this long without, so I don’t think you need to worry about.” It would have been nice to know when I started scuba diving, 40 years ago – nitrogen bubbles, and all.


  3. Excellent! I especially love the beginning and end of the last stanza:
    “I’ve taken shortcuts, felt drawn by currents
    beyond my control…
    … drawn that way by thoughts that have always flowed
    beneath the surface, waiting to emerge.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Outstanding connection between the observation of Nature and the circumstances in which we find ourselves (some of which, obviously, we’ve created via “Free Choice”).
    I sat by a similar stream once, watching fallen pine needles disappear into a stone tunnel similar to the one you describe here, and noted at some point that several needles entered simultaneously and only a couple emerged on the other side. I recall the “That’s Life” realization to this day.
    Great work, KG. Flow on, Brother.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This branching river resonates with me as I always look ahead, but there are only so many twists and turns that can be predicted before your paralyzed to make decisions. I enjoyed your poem’s struggle to determine if it’s possible to go against the currents.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. A wonderful intertwining of messages. I guess most of us have “a hole to bear” one way or another. You got me thinking about the eternal struggle between emotion and intellect, and how emotion usually takes the lead.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I like how you’ve woven the ideas together with unifying themes. Not easy to do. Nature is always the teacher. My anatomy and physiology instructor says there is always a complementarity of structure and function.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think the undertow became a vortex! My grandchildren have grown up 3000 miles away across the US, so I, too, rue not having them close. Thank heaven for technology. Think of our ancestors who saw their children go to new frontiers, never to be seen or heard from again!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hindsight never reveals the paths NOT chosen – the challenges, gains, losses – only apparent consequences of path chosen. Still we cannot help regretting some consequences – like distance from grandkids. I love the leaf resurfacing analogy.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I like how you’ve “drawn” the current as it rides through the three stanzas, up, down, over, and through the stream of life — and yet, water will always find its own way no matter how hard we attempt to diver it. We must just “wait for it to emerge.” Insightful and nicely woven. ~peace, Jason

    Liked by 1 person

  11. A deft interweaving of the three thoughts, Ken. It’s interesting how we are attracted to things in nature, like your rock formation in the stream, which stay with us and grow with meaning as the familiarity grows, so that we can describe them in detail. I like the repetition in ‘water’ and ‘blood must flow’, linking us to nature, and the lines:
    ‘…If it carried a leaf
    to the brain, what thoughts might it bring?
    I know those thoughts, as I know that leaf.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Kim. I’ve visited that small rock formation many times. Either it’s exposed like the photo, with very little water running through, or it has water rushing over it due to heavy rains. I think I’d have to sit next to it for a couple of days after a storm to catch the few hours that would hold the photo I have in my mind. I realized I just need to accept it as it is and write about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Merril is right, the photos are wonderful and complement the words. Sometimes the holes are a detour, sometimes an escape. And sometimes they let out what we wish to stay in. And sometimes, as you weave together so well, all of these things at the same time. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I think you blended all three streams (sorry) of thought together magnificently Ken. I did a double-take at ‘There’s a hole in my heart.’ Such a simple statement of fact and yet so poignant. And how you compare it to the river in the first stanza. A great poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Well written Ken! I celebrate the veracity and power of your words. May you continue always sharing only your authentic self — that alone makes you genuine, meaningful to read, and of worth to be heard!

    Liked by 1 person

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