Upright Among Staring Fish
We all of us are deep-sea divers
peering out of bone helmets
at a world lost in the flood.
Fogged wonders, marvels in the murk.
Okay, Red Diver? asks the voice down the umbilical,
machinery gasping and chattering in the background.
Okay Red, he reports.
The same mile and its return,
three times a week,
forty weeks a year,
more than a decade’s plod.
Two thousand nautical miles, San Francisco to Honolulu,
leaning into a prairie straight wind, slipping on sidewalk rime.
Divers are dressed by others, like children by their mothers,
suit, collar, belt, gloves, boots, hat, protection against the world.
One hundred-ninety pounds of brass, canvas, leather and lead,
nearly weightless in the sea but still this burden: not a fish.
This is my life, he thinks behind the faceplate. How strange.
This is my life. This is my life.
Hiss and gurgle of the mammal in full immersion.
Walking a compromise between bouncing off the bottom
and being stuck in silt, the quicksand of dreams.
Sustained falling as repose.
The intense concentration of self
in no topside furor.
Faces float past: Puffer, flounder, shark, eel.
Hubcap starfish in the mud. Giant clam of a dumpster.
Bone-white hawthorne against the sky, branches stark as dead coral.
Candy wrappers involuted like nudibranchs.
Have you entered the springs of the sea and
walked in search of the depth?