Alex the Diver

Captain’s Log 26/03/16 12:57

I knock on Alex’s door and a girl in a dressing gown answers. “Are you the poet?” she asks smiling, it feels weird that she knows who I am just by guessing. “Alex isn’t back until Tuesday, he told me to let you know.”

Captain’s Log 02/04/16 14:20

I walk over to Alex’s on a very soggy Saturday afternoon. When I get there his housemate answers again. “He said he’s staying at home a bit longer, so he’ll be back next week instead. It’ll be Monday or Tuesday if you can come back then?”

I feel cruel but I say no. The truth is I need to have some sort of cut-off point- I’ve got more doors to knock on and new places to visit. Three tries is probably enough, isn’t it? Does the person who comes to read the meter ever feel cruel? Probably not. It is a shame though, I would have liked to tell Alex about my trip to the diving centre. It would have been nice to explain that most of my poems aren’t so morbid as well. But I say goodbye to his housemate instead  and decide to take a picture of the door (I don’t know why I didn’t ask for a selfie with her, in hindsight that would have made more sense…)

IMAG0428I suppose this is just the way it’s going to work sometimes. It’s weird to think that this is the end of all the poems I’ve written in Heaton. I think about how it would have been nice to end the run with one like Helen’s, something upbeat and inspiring. But this isn’t My Fair Lady, it’s door-to-door poetry, so here’s one about nearly dying. Enjoy.




The Diver Decompresses

I wonder what it feels like
to be stuck there
between the surface and the ocean floor?
To realise
you’re almost out of air
and soon you won’t be
breathing anymore.

You tap the gauge that measures the gas
hoping that the little needle’s bust-
you swear
because you didn’t check it properly
and know that you’ve got nowhere

You can feel your heartbeat in your ears
above the hollow gurgling
of the sea;
your air mask gasps
distorted screams of fear,
you try to slow them but
they come more quickly.
You fight the instinct to swim
to the top,
remembering your early diving lessons:
Your brain would bubble
up like fizzy pop
and get ‘the bends’
from skipping decompression.

You look below
your rubber diving flippers,
there’s nothing
but a stretch of empty black.
the sun’s a muddied
turquoise glimmer,
you can’t believe you’re never going back.

It’s useless now,
you’ve went through all the options,
you just stay still
and wonder at your fate;
think about how most things in life happen
to you
while you stand around and wait.
Think about your family’s
hope that one day they can understand.

When suddenly
you taste fresh air’s
and you can see
your diving partners’ hand.

Rowan McCabe


One thought on “Alex the Diver

  1. Gale Power

    Your work is so evocative and often minimalist that there is no time to be anywhere others than in the moment.
    Congratulations on producing another excellent piece of work whilst maintaining such a high standard of clearly researched poetry.


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