Karissa Knox Sorrell


When my daughter and I were drowning,
there was no choice of saving her or me;

there was only surviving.
Her eight year old arm

frantic, grabbing my shoulder,
my body disappearing beneath

the world of breath.
Everyone around us was

enjoying the summer sun
as the cool creek water

pulled us toward its netherworld.
I could not call for help

as my mouth was silenced
with the language of wet things,

drowned stones and skeletons
tucked along the riverbed.

At last, my husband saw us
and swam to her, pulling

her struggling body to safety.
For a moment I thought

I would slip into that underworld,
surrender my breath to the world above,

live among the buried remnants
where earth is current and song.

But finally I startled and swam
to the rocks, which I knelt upon,

my body heaving as if I’d just
left a great burden upon an altar.

Karissa Knox Sorrell

is a poet and ESOL teacher from Nashville, Tennessee. She is the author of the chapbook Evening Body, published by Finishing Line Press in 2016, and a graduate of the Murray State University MFA program.