Nowhere to go
so you lean back
into this squall
A witch’s tit
into your life-rollicking.
This foam twisting, curling,
churning, frothing at the teeth,
this dark azure slapping beneath—
godhand fingering fibreglass—
where whales breed
in waterbeds of sulfuric purple weed.
Three of us tied to the gills,
toggled, strapped in oystertight;
berthside, pink blooms,
giant Medusa sporing,
cloud creatures teasing
brainlessly in the pelagic.
After fifteen days
you’re ready to sink
into any old sand, feel
kernels between the toes, or—
pinpoint crag jutting above
ocean’s windfrothed curlicues.
You ask the skipper
if there’s an oil rig boring out here,
simply anywhere where
molecules congregate to form solids.
Not a blind bean, he says,
smirking planktonic into the
the oldest soup in the known universe—
borne of molluscs a million muscles old—
a gazpacho of the mealymouthed:
krill feeders, bioluminescent foragers
and their algal cores, known as seventy percent
of this godless world.
It takes waters from the South Pole
one thousand six-hundred years
to reach the North, he quiffs
fingering the wheel with clenched breath,
waltzing in step with seesaw seesaw.
Now the waves heave twenty feet high
we skew at forty-five
as if we are to downplunge. Petrels, terns skim
the troughs, a stray pelican caws mast-circling.
You’ve heard in thirty years
there’ll be no more fish in the ocean
and yet, today, orca pods roll on their hunt
single-eyeing us, five of them, black humps,
a mythyopic serpent undulating, penumbrating,
honing in for the slow deadly bite.
You could almost reach across
into this wavewall
and fingerstroke their marble-smooth skins.
Supernatural, you say dripping,
as you take my hand in yours
squeeze down for dear life,
boring your fingernails into my palm,
leading me into the naked dark
of the cabin below, where,
sunk into the green-grey of
timelessness we slip into our own skins
and become mammals fondling
on the cusp of the breakwater.
—fifteen days aboard the Aurora, 2009