We Cannot Surrender Her
Try as I might to urge her on, she will not go.
She sends me on to test the water
but remains on the shore.
Ankle deep and then no more.
Fingers trailing and then no more.
Having once found a false bottom,
she trusts no foothold.
The falling is the thing, I tell her, yet she holds back from the fall.
Let me go down, I beg her.
I will always bring you up, she answers.
This is the role we alternate being the stand-in for.
What I want she keeps me from.
What she fears I pull her toward.
How many of us, children of the fifties,
find ourselves on this seesaw, wanting to control the ride?
Relax, I tell her, but she can’t relax––fearing what relaxation brings.
She cannot surrender herself. I cannot be content until she does.
Two-in-one, we rail against each other, then hold hands.
Comforting. This is enough, she tells me.
Nothing is ever enough, I tell her.
This is my third major rewrite of this poem originally written in 1976. Only three lines still remain from that poem. It is perhaps finished now.