It’s Like This I Told the Archangel
who can’t swim—
crazy crowded under great waters
two hours from shore and so misleading dull vast gray not even blue if you
look from the boat a great nothing really except you could say
notable ships with notable some questionable if not
despicable captains shattered dissolved there a century and decades ago
also the unfamous lost to who-knows-where plus storms of course
a terrible reverie kicks in wind the stopped motor as they laid out tea
little cups of little cakes the earnest young marine biologists their charts
and maps the possible end of it all be careful it’s heating up
month after month roiling therefore queasy but
instantly as one goggles up snorkels in and drops OMG
EVERYONE STILL HERE! ALL ALONG! IN FULL COLOR! lucky the
that down and down Clownfish orange and white Gobies’ tiny blazing
yellow the thick-lipped
speckled Wrasse Damselfish Triggerfish both blue as the deepest bruise
there’s a movie like this black and white to sudden every color you
you do and grew up with it as if longing is belonging she closes
her eyes in it she recites like a schoolgirl like an anti-panic device set to
even now, this century there’s no place like . . . out of straw a brain then
emptiness turns to a heart fear to a great fear remembered thus quieted
a gleaming medal for it but Christ so much is hard hard to believe
it gets harder the simple point great waters of the reef go quiet
when there’s bad news coral fewer and fewer it’s fine a sign
triumphantly ordinary-fine when creatures make noise click and whine
and crack open
and shut in such a spot we fanned out our drift and drag our how and why
mountains valleys deeper than lost fabled cities our habit in dream
all manner of thousands graceful creatures finned and clawed and aglow
no thanks to our dead language names for them not a curtain
but pulled back just their just here thing their crowd streams beloved as
any neighborhood and crazy a real racket down there eating mating
fighting forgetting where they put their glasses (see? You are paying
attention. . .) how
tiniest fish for a home in the reef they need to listen they listen to
so much still gorgeous except those places of die-off quiet gray-out
too-warm-for-the-waving-brilliant-living we swimmers overhead mere
shadows falling there
part of that dark that keeps dropping
I learned to read any color as light I told the Archangel who
didn’t buy that either light as schools of moving light every corner we turned
and yellows dappled and striped though yes and yes no corners
Fabulous Outrageous Termite Mounds
multiplied by thousands
upon thousands, shock then dumbfound
all over the Outback. Their 6-foot
palaces, castles, great manor houses
settlers broke into, carved out
to fire up for bread.
But the Ancients before them put their
loved dead in there, all ritual
and heartbreak, waiting for
termites to forgive the intrusion, to seal up
the mounds again. It took . . .
I don’t know how long but surely
a stitching, close work.
I won’t say kindness but just the thought of
certain thoughts on auto-insect-do-gooder repeat is—
why not see gracious for gracious? Such lordly
spires for air and cooling and food.
They live underground, some with wings.
Really stupid, geez! the Archangel laughed out loud.
I mean, who flies dirt’s dark and narrow?
Why wings at all if you live down there?
Those tiniest veils not nearly as nice as mine, he sang,
their hindwing backloaded, in disguise.
Trees Line the Road Into
the Outback, the usual
Eucalyptus jerked every which way
winter ache does, huge branches
dropping bark, crooked strips as if
the night before
a drug war, a fight, a drunken frenzy.
All of it to the ground.
Beyond the paddocks the quarrels
of only a few small birds. Not even cockatoos
hung around in their noisy usual.
But tell me, I ’d look grand
as a cockatoo, right?
That was the Archangel in my ear, ad nauseum.
Want is want, whatever feathered shape it is.
At the rest-stop someone left
a measured pile of stones, a meaning.