I started down this road to writing books with characters who can perform Christ’s miracles because of the crystal clear memory I have of nearly drowning when I was four years old. It seems wonderful to me that I not only remember something that no one could have told me, but that it’s a GOOD memory. I mean, you’d think almost dying wouldn’t be a fond remembrance. That alone has to be a miracle.
Before I started writing fiction, I wrote poetry. I really didn’t see myself writing anything longer than a poem that would fit on one page. I guess God had other ideas. As it turns out, I’ve written poems that fit each of the three novels I’ve finished. I’ve shared a couple of them, but this is the poem that describes that seminal event–that near drowning in 1976.
IN THE BEGINNING
How can nearly drowning be
my best, first memory?
At the age of four I fell in a pond
and it could have been the end
of a life barely begun, but instead
I remember the golden light
filtering through old leaves and silt,
the underwaterness of the sun,
the weightlessness of me.
My mother pulled me out—
birthed me all over again—
and maybe it was like leaving
the warmth of the womb.
The new air hurt my throat,
my lungs, that breath
a whisper of my first.
Taken from the farm to a hospital,
Mom lifted me into a high window
on a night when I was nearly whole.
I could see lights stretching further
than tomorrow—more lights
than there could be in this world.
And I remember the wonder
of being alive and knowing
that all of this was for me.