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POETRY

The Deep End

Here’s a tautology

You’re either alive or you’re dead

(the comatose are dead until they are alive)

(while everyone else is alive until they are dead)

There’s no kiddie pool

Outside of the sad chart in the hospital

That someone’s forced to look at every time the doctor has to say that 

It’s not a boy it’s not a girl it’s nothing

A dead vessel 

For expectations that now lie dead in the water

I wasn’t one of those children so now I’m standing on the edge of the pool

 

I remember being five years old

Parent-approved rubber straightjackets around my arms

The yellow rubber digging into my skin

The pain keeping me afloat

The water was too cold

I got no further than my ankle

Before the oh so predictable tears came

They had tissues but they still forced me to trust the armbands

 

I also remember being sixteen

Standing at the edge of a lake in Switzerland 

I should specify

The lake was a couple of metres below me

The rocks were not

No one knew it then but I jumped because I was a boy

And boys are dumb and reckless and bloody

I’d only gotten the latter right so far 

But god I tried so hard

And so I also remember the air

How it wasn’t there all of a sudden

It got so cold so fast

Ten thousand ton of water weighing down on me 

All contained in a metre or so

Above my head

I remember coming up again

My hair sticking to my mouth 

Silencing my brain’s cry for air

For just a second longer

My classmates cheered for me

Stereotypically,

the only girl who’d jumped

Their faces were obscured by the sun

Turning them from half-familiar to purely strange

 

And yet despite this whole poem

I do not remember ever believing that this is what heaven actually looks like

I was never able to convince myself that the people on the other side would cheer

I don’t think there’s anyone at all there

I would/will/could leave all of earth’s life behind

In favour of a black hole

The deep end is empty

Nothing but chlorine and piss

Then again

I am an empiricist

Simon Hauwaerts is an aspiring writer who is currently studying at the University of Sussex. His pronouns are he/him and he is transgender. He is on Instagram as @bookishsimon and on Tumblr as @ghosttownmayor.