Almanac Poetry: Near Drowning at St Leonards Beach, Victoria, 1967



St Leonards Pier, Victoria. (Source: Wikimedia Commons.)


Near Drowning at St Leonards Beach, Victoria, 1967


Nearly drowned
when I was five.
My father saved my life.
Was paddling at St. Leonards beach,
not far from shore,
when I stepped into a pothole
and was suddenly out of my depth.
Couldn’t swim.
Went down once.
Struggled to the surface.
Battled up again,
to glimpse my father,
sprinting, splashing towards me.
Had gone down for a third time,
when I felt his powerful hands
take me under the armpits
and snatch me from oblivion.
My father and I have never talked freely;
we’ve certainly not discussed
the time he saved my life.
And never will.


(Acknowledgement: first published in Sacredly Profane, Ginninderra Press, 2020.)



Read more from Kevin Densley HERE


Kevin Densley’s latest poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, is available HERE


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Kevin Densley is a poet and writer-in-general. His fourth book-length poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, has just been published (late 2020) by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Recent other writing includes screenplays for films with a tertiary education purpose.


  1. Colin Ritchie says

    It’s a horrible feeling, thinking you are about to drown. When I was 8 or 9 I got dumped by wild surf at Lorne, couldn’t get up, the pressure of the wave kept me rolling under water, I lost all sense of orientation, didn’t know which way to kick, and I was out of breath, frightening sensation. What I was doing in the surf on a day like that I don’t know. Thankfully I lived to tell the story. You poem brought all those memories back KD.

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for the comments, Col. Yes, it’s certainly a scary sensation, feeling like one is about to drown. It’s like a buried alive sensation, I suppose, except the medium is water, not earth.

    In my instance, I was pretty much “gone” too, until my father grabbed me under the arms and basically lifted me clean out of the water in one go. I suppose he must’ve thrown me over his shoulder and made his way back to shore that way.

    Almost needless to say, I had swimming lessons soon afterwards and became a reasonable swimmer, though when one is a young bloke, one is sometimes a risk taker. I regularly swam at Thirteenth Beach, near Barwon Heads, which can get pretty rough, and quite a number of times had to exert myself considerably to get back into shore against dangerous undertows.

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