Emily Pritchard

He Explains Why Drowning Does Not Look Like Drowning

We are standing on the bridge
in darkness when he says,

“Let me tell you what happens
when the human body hits
cold water.

First, the shock of it.
A gasp of ice. Water
enters blood vessels.

They burst
like cheap balloons.

Then, warm blood
from fingers and toes, hands and arms,
is pulled into your body.

You lose control of all

It does not look like you are waving.

Drowning people
cannot call for help: speech

is a secondary function.
Breath comes first.

In a matter of minutes
your lungs fill and you sink.

You may imagine a long fight,
a struggle of splashing and shouting,
but let me tell you:

a drowning person is quiet in the water”.

We walk home in silence,
and I drown.


Emily Pritchard grew up in Oxford, discovered performance poetry in Melbourne last year, and currently studies English Literature at the University of York, where she writes and performs as much as possible.