Sherry Poff

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Into the Water

A cool stream enfolds my waist, and my feet
sink into smooth silt of the creek bottom
as the preacher puts a steadying hand
on my back.

We’ve already sung Shall We Gather
at the River
, but this is merely a wide spot
in the creek where we children
learned to float.

My big sister was the champion floater.
Hands folded neatly, eyes closed
to the sun, she gave herself
to the current.

Envious of her effortless grace, serene surrender,
I always tried too hard. My thin arms flailed,
my feet found the bottom, and I never
learned to rest.

On this Sunday afternoon, the swimming hole
becomes a place of consecration, holy trust,
as surrounding mountains ring with another song:
Nothing but the Blood

But the blood of family beats in my six-year-old heart,
and my sister’s eyes are on me. Looking back,
I can’t help but wonder who it was I followed
into the water.

Sherry Poff writes in and around Ooltewah, Tennessee. She holds an M.A. in writing from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and is a member of the Chattanooga Writers’ Guild. Her work has appeared in various publications including Raconteur Review, Liquid Imagination, and Flash Nonfiction Food (Woodhall Press).

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Photo Credit: “1350ex adrift” by Jenny Pansing,

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