“Diving Trip” by Ben Clark and Colin Winnette

05 October 2012 on Poetry   Tags: ,

Your first time underwater you shook your head to signal you couldn't breathe. I knew you had oxygen to spare. Even when you shook your head, pointed up, I knew. You sliced your foot open pushing off a coral colony, then flailed to the surface. You threw up off the front of the boat and stumbled to bed despite the captain's warning. It only got worse. You woke up and were not able to stand. I told you that you were fine, and when the sun set we dove again. You lost a flipper and swam up slowly, your one flipper flapping. I followed, surfaced next to you, set my mask above my eyebrows. You licked the snot from your upper lip, said you saw a shark, maybe two, peering out of the dark. You didn't want to dive anymore.

I spent the evening with the captain and two members of the crew. We dangled our legs, ate shrimp cocktail, and drank Kraken. In the captain's quarters, there were tusks from the four elephants he's killed. I imagined the elephants in a line, standing there, shoulder to shoulder. I dove again in the morning. Again that afternoon. I left space for you. You watched from the deck. The captain I later told you has killed four men. He says you always feel it. You slept most of the day with a shirt over your face and woke up burnt from the chin down. I snorkeled with the crew, skinny-dipped, and saw schools of black fish gleaming on the periphery. Diving isn't for you, maybe. You're not a sea person. You worried we'd go on like this for years.


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