Snorkeling in Little Bay

Jamaica shore is languid.
Movement in heat breeds
small goats, children,
the multiple lusting generation
of wild breadfruit,
sea grape, aloevera, coconut,
bougainvillea, hibiscus,
green chameleon, striped
tanagers, humming birds,
plum, pecan trees--: moisture.
I am at home here.

The margin scuttles with
crabs and is shored with
coral; when the surf is
up and white-tipped
tetons of water swell,
their intersection sounds
as the artillery on the third
day at Gettysburg heard
from Frederick, continuous,
insistent, soft. Storm surges
of warm saltwater batter
the swimmer against
kniferock and he feels
at home here as well.

But out in the water
the Atlantic edge vanishes
in the distance where
a north wind can blow
you over 20,000 fathoms
deep and kill you, since
you'll never make it back
to shore against that wind.
I put my mask into
the water, see the bottom
dappled with stone
and sunlight against
occasional sand over which
small blue fish swim.
the breath scrapes
harsh against the tube
and salt sea climbs
into my nose; and the
bottom recedes into
an amniotic black
where barracuda smile
and snarl, guarding the
silence of great deep
rock, the thunderous
enlightenment of darkness.
This too is my home,
but I am afraid. I am afraid
of this final home.

Steven Fortney

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Page updated by TiPi, 10/27/2000