Catherine Yeates: “Waves”


_____You hold your ground through a tidal wave of thought, rushing, pounding, drenching you, and you said you wouldn’t ruminate, wouldn’t fixate. That you wouldn’t stare into the water, searching until your forehead burns and your mind is mush and all you know is impulse. Because impulse tells you to cup your hands and let the water pour over them, and you check it, examine it, decode it—turn it over in your mind as you try to scour an ocean of water for the tiny speck of sand that will finally tell you what went wrong. But the sand tells you nothing, sand is only sand, and thoughts are water, so you stop and breathe and take your hands out of the ocean, because you’re drenched but not drowning. You’re building dams, digging ditches, learning to direct the water away, to put it to use. That’s good mental hygiene, that’s brushing your teeth and washing your face with soap and water, but not with the tidal wave because all you can do is let it flow around you. You let it go. You stand steady until the wave sinks again, only as high as your ankles. Only then do you cup your hands and splash yourself and let the coolness soothe the burning in your head.

Catherine Yeates is a writer and illustrator. They received their PhD in neuroscience and create writing and art on themes of cognition, perception, and identity. They can be found at

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