Feb 20, 2020 | Featured Poems

Deep Sea Callings

1. Two Young Scamps

Taunts of coins glinting on the sea bottom
where the cove begins to thirst for depth,
but only to eyes brave enough to catch the slanting
light through the current. Deeper still, a man
in helmet and iron shoes, a father, quarries
for shellfish. His air hose snags and his tank fouls
on the sabre-edged rocks: the boys freeze
into cairns as they witness the ebbing of a life.

2. A Reunion in Palermo

Pensiones stipple the hillside above the docks,
some perch like castle-keeps; in the courtyards,
comforted by bolsters and cushions, the locks
fall away to a knowing touch; and the sloped cobble
clops to the retreat of shod feet and a donkey braying
its way to market on the piazza that meets the sea.

3. The Contest at Sea

The reef frets the aquamarine into ancient eyebrows,
the dive for truth is powered by double-footed fins
and the kick of earth, if that image is not misplaced;
seepage from the life above is pinched shut
by nose-clips, though the ocean weighs like all the sins
of history. Medieval swordfish, two young men,
joust for an accolade that will drain a future
from them, one to ashes, the other to a merman’s fate.

4. Aftermath

As the credits fade, the plot and characters
drowse into hibernation in the dusk
that settles on my living room. By some misstep
or pirouette I find myself thinking of how
my beautiful daughter coaxes meaning,
and mercy, from the confusion of others;
my elder son in a just distant city, an unwritten script
before him, lives a life decidedly his own;
my younger son, music braiding his hair into a lyre,
is steadfast as the dawn; and how the glacier
pulses with love as the farther shore inches closer.

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After watching The Big Blue

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Photo credit: Julie Scully

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