I Thought I Was Dying, But All I Could Hear Was Laughing

Bonnie Manion

The bay was perfectly round, nestled 

among verdant hills, the ocean surging

into Moloa’a cove on huge rollers sweeping

to shore in a rushing arc of heaving foam, 

tons of water thundering as it hit the beach, 

wave remnants scurrying up the sandy slope

in lacey swirls before dying in their retreat.


My brother and I were boogie-boarding

the waves, riding to shore time after time

on the long surge of power pushing along

in each ocean swell.  Dad stood nearby

in waist-deep seawater watching our fun.


Feeling the water pull back out under you

signals that a wave is building up behind;

you must be ready to leap onto your board 

when the swell arrives, swept forward as

it carries you along, folding over and over 

on top of itself while continuing to bear you

firmly toward shore, taking you on a fine 

ride until it rolls up onto the beach.


Suddenly a large wave crashed too early,

smashing right on top of me, sending me

lurching into the churning sand bottom. 

My board shot straight up out of the water

like a rocket as I was caught in a powerful

whirlpool of churning, crashing, smashing

undertow.  I tasted saltwater and saw only 

swirling sand.  I could not tell where up was, 

how deep I was, nor which direction shore was.


I thought I was dying, but all I could hear was

my Dad laughing.