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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing March 2023
Tsunami, poems by Amy A. Barry
I journeyed in the dark,
wet cold air roped my body.
My ears burned.
My blood rushed
to the anguished cries
of slow death.
I felt trapped
and almost dead myself.
All around me, faces
wore garish masks,
like characters in a tragic opera,
desperate to rekindle hope.
When you live in Australia,
it’s at least an eleven-hour flight to board another.
You never sleep, as you’re always cramped
into cattle class.
(diving companies would strap you to the wing
to save a dollar if they could).
A local agent will meet you;
he usually has no idea what’s going on.
You meet the other divers, drink yourself to a stupor,
because it’ll be your last night on shore.
Once you’re on the vessel, you’re working on shift.
Twelve to twelve, after a few days, the diving starts,
six to nine of us herded into a saturation chamber,
about six meters long and about two meters in diameter.
You breathe differently here.
Huffing the helium, you talk like Donald Duck,
and so you’ll live for 28 days.
Two divers are put into a bell, shaped like an egg,
connected to the chamber,
dropped over the side of the boat, attached to a wire.
Just above the sea-bed, you jump out of the bell, still attached.
For six hours lifting heavy things in bad visibility,
requires incredible focus,
where any mistake you make
could lead to agonizing death.
Back to the chamber to eat and sleep.
On the 29th day, you’re decompressed,
the gas in the chamber let out slowly over three slow days,
till your body is at the same pressure as the outside world.
Then, the journey starts all over again.
© Amy A. Barry
Amy A. Barry writes poetry and short stories. She is published widely in journals, magazines and press and featured in Breaking Ground Ireland. Her poems have been translated into many languages including Italian, Persian, Turkish, Azerbaijani and Spanish. Amy has been awarded literature bursaries from the Arts Council and Words Ireland. A travel lover, she previously worked in the media, hotel and oil/gas industry. She regularly organises poetry & music events in her hometown, Athlone. She has performed her work in Ireland and internationally. Amy is a professional member of The Irish Writers Centre and an honorary member of the Neruda Association, Italy. She is the founder of Global Writers. Chosen for the Poetry Ireland Introduction Series 2022.