Diving in to the wreck, or safe shallows: depth psychotherapy in practice.

This fabulous poem evokes the mystery and the call to go deeply in to our own inner world. For some people, artists and spiritual voyagers for example, this summoning to dive is strong and heeded. Sometimes it is pushed on to us when we would rather stay shallow.

You might find that when you start to respond to the summoning, deep, insistent pull of the depths something changes in life – it gets more real. There is a seeming contradiction on the face of it, you are turning away from the concrete quotidian reality to the hazy, unknown realm of mystery. And yet here in the mystery life can seem more full, more real.

I am so grateful that we have a community of us who know and love the value of returning to the wreck to know the ‘damage that was done and the treasures that prevail’ in Rich’s words. Here is the poem.

Diving in to the wreck. Adrienne Rich.

First having read the book of myths,

and loaded the camera,

and checked the edge of the knife-blade,

I put on

the body-armor of black rubber

the absurd flippers

the grave and awkward mask.

I am having to do this

not like Cousteau with his

assiduous team

aboard the sun-flooded schooner

but here alone.

There is a ladder.

The ladder is always there

hanging innocently

close to the side of the schooner.

We know what it is for,

we who have used it.

Otherwise

it is a piece of maritime floss

some sundry equipment.

I go down.

Rung after rung and still

the oxygen immerses me

the blue light

the clear atoms

of our human air.

I go down.

My flippers cripple me,

I crawl like an insect down the ladder

and there is no one

to tell me when the ocean

will begin.

First the air is blue and then

it is bluer and then green and then

black I am blacking out and yet

my mask is powerful

it pumps my blood with power

the sea is another story

the sea is not a question of power

I have to learn alone

to turn my body without force

in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget

what I came for

among so many who have always

lived here

swaying their crenellated fans

between the reefs

and besides

you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.

The words are purposes.

The words are maps.

I came to see the damage that was done

and the treasures that prevail.

I stroke the beam of my lamp

slowly along the flank

of something more permanent

than fish or weed

the thing I came for:

the wreck and not the story of the wreck

the thing itself and not the myth

the drowned face always staring

toward the sun

the evidence of damage

worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty

the ribs of the disaster

curving their assertion

among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.

And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair

streams black, the merman in his armored body.

We circle silently

about the wreck

we dive into the hold.

I am she: I am he

whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes

whose breasts still bear the stress

whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies

obscurely inside barrels

half-wedged and left to rot

we are the half-destroyed instruments

that once held to a course

the water-eaten log

the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are

by cowardice or courage

the ones who find our way

back to this scene

carrying a knife, a camera

a book of myths

in which

our names do not appear.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Siobhan says:

    Wow that’s so powerful , I could hardly breathe whilst reading this .
    Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Eluned says:

    Crumbs, Katy! That’s some poem.

    Liked by 1 person

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