Not knowing what to grab, I grabbed a man
and then another, their bodies
turning to handles on a sinking boat.
Under water, the fish swam
by. My hair a drift of brown
in the night sea, the moon
a wavery slash of white on my puckered skin.
Can you imagine how sorry I felt for myself, drowning
by no fault of my own—not my storm, not my journey,
not my idea this salt and water and wind--
clutching the handles, the wet wood pulling me under.
Even the moon faded.
Remember the Indian wives, stars of flame
flickering on their husbands burning bodies,
suttees of failure?
Or what about this? Remember the time when there was no boat,
no water, just you on that shore you cast
Finally, one hand slipped—oh how I missed
the wood against my palm. And no, but no, not the other, and
then it was gone, too.
Did you know a blue whale’s heart is as big
as a Volkswagen?
Did you know that it can submerge for an
hour before needing a breath?
The last of my air bubbles burbled past my eyes.
I hung, wide-eyed, miserable,
so alive even as the bottom feeders
nibbled my shins, even as the whole
of the ocean closed over me, dark and full of stories.
thesmokingpoet.tripod.com, June 2008.