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Splash of Panic

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Below is the poem entitled Splash of Panic which was written by poet Irene Hammer-McLaughlin. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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Splash of Panic

The ones who would soak 
the mother who drowned 
her children in serpentine
seas never floated a child. 

When splashed amongst 
the horror-stricken, 
we too feign revulsion. 
Evoke higher powers and
baptismal pools: the fluidity
in the womb. The commingled bond.
But single us out, and buoys
snare our feet as we swim for
shore. Weighted down and engulfed
with load in tow – bondage. 

Admit it!
Not a one hasn’t considered 
suffocating that incessant 
whining beneath the softness 
of a comforting wave or lifejacket –
has not wished we could hurl the 
wailing one at a shoreline just to make it 

That shrill that turns all heads at 
a pool party where somehow 
every 4-year-old but yours is 
peacefully partaking in cake –

But yours must splash the dry.
Or don another’s pink towel. 
Or dive off the high board.
Just five more minutes.


This is not a topic a mother can 
bring up casually over coffee. 

Too fierce for me, possibility bobs to the surface.

Since the time her sucking 
rubbed my areolas raw, we’ve had 
our moments – times when I could’ve
river rafted her  
perhaps reclaiming her upon maturity.

I need alone time, I explain 
inexplicably to the baby blues
locked on with innocent revulsion. 
I have drowned her out with work, 
and she notes the behavior –
will avert her own children’s guilt-
provoking glare when she 
demands alone time. 
Craves it. 

Even as I type, the whine is still there, 
abutting my every keystroke, 
pushing my buttons until I wish to 
gurgle deep and low, like a wave that comes 
up crashing then subsumed by the next 
and next until their edges blur.

Toni got the blues. Allowed herself 
the chance to drown one out in fiction. 
She was a mother after all.

Right now, a single drop at the surface 
might take hold and pull me under. 

Please abandon this line 
before you immerse your baby
for a poem. 

Coach shouts out: 
Slow your stroke and focus on form…
and try to remember: breathe.

But despite that advice,
I gurgle like she did.
And then I remember
to love.

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