Friday, 11 September 2015

What the Water Gave Me

A short piece written whilst on the Isle of Skye. I spoke about my love of wild swimming here.

The title is taken from a song by Florence + the Machine, which you can listen to by clicking here.


The moment is enough.

The surface of the river is glossy black, but shimmering beneath my white hand is coloured sienna: the legacy of the peat that has flowed off the moors. I feel no cold, only the softness of the water around me. The silence is of that kind that is not silent at all, a ripple, the river’s roar and gush, and yet it seems all quiet. Only my thoughts are audible, dropping with perfect clarity to the river’s punctuation.

I kick through the water, feeling it push against my. On this side I can feel the whisper of the current, drawing me back. Ferns trail at the pool’s edge, glowing with the green of summer. I paddle close, touching the fronds that branch like nerves or bronchi.

There is a tree half-submerged in the water, its branches bowing over the river. Under the canopy of leaves it is still and the air is patterned green, the notes of a foreign and faraway song.

I push out beneath the dappled sky, looking up at the bridge that spans the river in red and grey stone. It arches with solid certainty, promising that it has stood, will stand for many years. I wonder how many have crossed it and stopped to gaze into the water beneath. Did it tug at some dark place inside them? Perhaps the blackness spoke fear, homesickness, disenchantment. But if they raised their eyes to this mirrored pool beyond, their anxious pulses might have slowed. Perhaps the water showed them stillness, light, shadow. Peace.

My foot brushes a rock and I wonder how much is submerged, lurking, just below the glassy surface. It makes the pool feel old, as if it knows many things. I shiver. In a moment this place, lashed by rain, say, or in cold moonlight, could be sinister. But as the water laps around me I reject the thought. I am sure the pool is, though not safe, forgiving. Not tame, not written in lines and boxes, but loving.

The sun breaks through the clouds, sending a sparkling line across the water onto my face, and I breathe the smell of the river.

I am not cold, and the blackness is clear.

The moment is enough.


  1. "I wonder how much is submerged, lurking, just below the glassy surface." So much meaning in that line. Or even the next, "It makes the pool feel old, as if it knows many things." Ah! Yes. that whole paragraph. About how it's not safe but at least forgiving. That's how the wild really is. It's never really tame, but it let's you in.

    Also, I like the part about what do people see when they stop to look down into the water.

    "I am not cold, and the blackness is clear." - I like that too.

    Florence + the Machine. . . one of my co-workers is convinced I look like her. I, on the other hand, disagree. Though I do have another co-worker who says I reminder her of Merida from Brave. She's like, "You look like her. Your face, your expressions, everything." I've never seen Brave to be honest. . . but I doubt I look like a cartoon.

    You're writing is so beautiful. So thoughtful. I mean like, it thinks. Does that make sense? I don't know. But it does make me think.

    Oh, before I forget, because I always forget things. I tagged you for the Authorly Bucket List. :)

    1. Thank you! :D

      I'm glad you enjoyed :)

      GOSH BUT YOU DO! YOU ACTUALLY DO! I HAD NEVER MADE THIS REVELATION BEFORE BUT IT IS TRUE! Not so much Merida. She's a bit, uh, animated ...

      Thank you, you're so so kind :')

      Thanks! I'll check it out! (At some point. In the distant mists of the future. When I'm not drowning in work. Oh wait. That'll be NEVER. ~existential crisis intensifies~)

  2. This was really fantastic! I must ask: was the water actually black? I've never seen that before, except at night when it's dark. XD

    1. Thank you, Rachel! :D Yeah, pretty much, because it was full of peat ... maybe more dark brown, though (but, well, pretty much black).


Thanks for commenting! :)