Hold Your Breath

Hold your breath.
On the count of three, we went under.
The surface wobbling above us, we smiled with ballooned cheeks,
Bubbles rising out of our nostrils in rapid flurries
As we pedalled the water beneath us.

That’s what we did, all the time. When it came to eating, when it came to running,
When it came to lifting, cycling or jumping,
It became a contest to see
Who could be the stronger, faster, smarter sibling.
Whilst I gilded the title of Chess master,
You were crowned the champion of stuffing marshmallows in your mouth,
Both equal achievements in our friendly rivalry
That would go down in history.
Soon, the next medal was to be assigned as we slowly emptied ourselves with air
And filled ourselves with determination.

But history is warbled, trying to remember those times
Was trying to read through running water.
Looking back, I’m not sure what’s clay or pebble;
What’s been moulded by grief and growth
Or what’s carved in hard stone, the reality
Of who I was, who I am.

I came home in spring, twenty years later,
And made my way to the river.
The water lilies umbrellas for the gilt-head bream
Whilst the toads bathed in the sun.
I couldn’t take my eyes off the still, calm water,
Hoping you were still holding your breath,
And then suddenly, you’d resurface as the winner.

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