Saturday, March 5, 2016


A different world exists under the water
Many people will pass their entire life believing
The opaque dark surface of a lake
Hides a cold, empty barren planet beneath
      But I know better

Underwater, gravity seems to shift
Instead of falling quickly and fighting to rise
Even the hardest kicks aren't enough to propel one to the ground
     Down here
And the surface calls, beckons, vacuums
Humans always forced back to that interface
After only mere moments allowed exploring

For the wily ones who can stay under a little longer
The passport to this new world unveils the strangest sights

Schools of fishes - forty, fifty person classrooms
Eye me warily from the side of their heads
As they dart left, then right, then down, then back
Moving as a single unit
Away from this limb-ed, awkward intruder

The sand of the lake bottom trickles wetly through pruned fingers
Gurgles of oxygen and carbon dioxide,
     Trapped in snow globe bubbles
Escape blue-tinged lips and race to the surface
To explode in a panicked burst

Tiny creatures, no bigger than the head of a pin
With transparent bodies, and huge black eyes
Rise passively through the water column, looking at me
They are mixed with even smaller beings, unidentifiable particles
That illuminate like dust floating through the living room air in the afternoon sun
Only to be extinguished again as they pass out of the beam of light
That has penetrated the water's surface

The orange feet of a family of ducks sends ripples along the lake's glass tabletop
Webbed toes kicking effortlessly to propel plump feathered bodies away
The biggest feet lead the brigade of many pairs of smaller ones
They quickly put distance between themselves, and me
But I don't take offense

Crayfish, leading with oversized claws
     Blend seamlessly with the sodden sand bottom
They scurry forth, then disappear again into their surroundings
Underwater chameleons

Tall leafy plants stretch their long necks
Reaching and climbing, battling toward the sun
Their slimy hands grab at my bare legs, asking for help to the top
While I wonder instead how far I can swim down

A splash of a heavy body with a heavier shell
    Over in that weedy bay
Reminds me of the snapping turtle whose head rises above the water from time to time
Interested in a variety of prey found in the shallows
Including human toes?  Only he knows

Reluctantly I kick, rising up, up
       The water warming with my ascent
I gulp sweet summer air and squint into the sun
While my legs and feet continue the dance in that other world
Not ready yet to say goodbye

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