You are teaching your daughter to swim
in open waters
though you don’t know the depth
of the lake at its centre; who might have died there,
whether the pike will scare her or bite her,
if the current will pull her down.
At the level of water, the mountains are higher.
The cold is a world she will walk to and enter
where deep mud is softer than skin.
Let the pebbles swim under her feet!
All the darkness beneath her
is answered by birds
and the trees will be tall and kind.
The sun will light up the water above her.
When there’s no ground left to stand on,
then she’ll fly.
Though the cold makes her teeth ache
she can take it. The rain cannot soak her,
the swan will not harm her. No dead man
will reach out his hand. You will watch her
leaving the shore behind
and the current will flow
the right way. That day,
the water will hold her
and take her far from you.
Now let her go from you. Let go.
A poem by Clare Shaw,
Poet in Residence for the
BASPCAN 2018 International Child Protection Congress
To read more of Clare’s poems and to find out more about the Congress see our website:
and the water holds you
and carries you
it stops you from going down
and occasional sun
Y Living things scare you –
their dark little nudges
you imagine them,
snake-like and toothy and eyeless.
there’s nothing makes sense
but your arms
the rhythm of you moving forwards
beat and stroke
and sun on the surface
ou are leaving the shore behind.