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"Treading Water" by Natalie Nee



I have seen suffering

It even has a scent

You tip your poison and gulp the numb

Words slow, steps falter

Pitch changes, eyes flutter

Rock bottom does not exist

when you’re always searching for the bottom of the bottle

The merry-go-round circles again

Dizzying for us both, too fast to get off

I tell you things and you pretend to remember

You were there but not here

Double letters exist to help you

The stale coffee, echoes of support

But what about those who don’t anesthetize,

the ones who remember it all?

A caregiver should not be a child

Now I have dysfunction, too

Codependent, it’s called

I try and fix things, to control

I’m only trying to help

Boundaries mean nothing when they’ve been trampled, invisible

The cycle starts over

you were doing so good

I dive in to save you

I hold you as I swim to shore

I’m kicking for both of us

Don’t you want to live?

The burden is too heavy to hold

My body shakes with adrenaline

Crisis strikes again

Maybe it’s my drug of choice now all thanks to you

I thought I could save you, it’s all I want

But I can no longer carry us both

You have to swim, too

My face tilts for oxygen, the water laps my face

I’m in over my head now

It may be too late

There’s no chance I can save you

If I hang on, we both drown

You anchor me to this deep abyss

But if I let go, maybe I can save myself




Natalie Nee is a bibliophile, graduate of Colorado State University, former ghostwriter, and latte enthusiast. She is passionate about creating stories that provoke both thought and emotion. Her debut novel, a domestic thriller, will be going out on submission in 2023. Her poem, Unnoticed, was just accepted with Half and One. When she's not writing or getting lost in a book, you can find her with fam enjoying life. She’s cooler on Twitter @WriterNatalieN.

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