Close to the Edge

By Mary Pomfret


When I was seven and sweet

I lived on the west coast, rugged and dark

Rainforest, devils, possum ringtail, hanging from the pines.


Benign neglect, disguised as love, was commonplace back then.

Mother would have been knitting booties for the next baby,

Father tinkering in the shed.


So, I took a stroll, careless, past the blackberry bushes,

Canes arched and thorned thickets bearing tempting black fruit,

Then into the wet forest, raindrops glistening like tiny cut crystals

On the outstretched fronds of the squat palm trees.

I reached the river and alone I stood watching the brown fast flowing depths.


The current was strong and the edges of the riverbank soft.

And slowly I slid down into the rapid current below. Icy.

I don’t think I knew anything about death when I was seven,

But I knew I was going somewhere fast.


What seemed like hours was probably only a minute, maybe not even that.

I remember feeling the riverbed soft and sandy beneath my young body.

The riverbed held me like a loving parent it seemed.

I knew I had somehow reached the shallow end.


Shaking and surprised at my unexpected ride and safe arrival

I stood and shook my dripping hair and wrung the hem of my sodden dress.

At seven, I knew then that deep wide rivers are not without mercy.

The river left me, all those years ago, after a wild ride,

Just as I am now, still standing at the shallow end.



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