Just revisiting my trip last year to cheer the dark days of a UK January.
Snorkelling, Peter Island. February 2015.
I lie suspended, spread eagled, hanging between the air I know
and the world all new to me below. I am a meniscus,
fine balanced, playing the surface tension,
suspended in the earth’s curve mirroring the surface.
I am motionless and washed by the gentle swell,
suspended. Gently I work my limbs, newly given force by fins.
A swish and I head in, expecting the first stubby sponges,
deepest russet red, giant hand corals planted on the rock
where I had left them the day before, planted in my mind’s eye.
Anticipation, breathing steady through the plastic tube and valve.
And here they are, staking out this submarine garden.
A lilac flat fish sails by with gentle subtle hues
against the soft cream sand. Angel fish trick the eye
with yellow band and rearguard spot, sightless protectors
to the little band. Astonishing jagged arrow fish graze the algal lawn,
pale cream and Art Deco arrow dart with brilliant turquoise fin.
The glitter of the damsel fish, electric blue and flat,
and tiny wriggly young, their fat pubescent tummies
deepest purest blue, with salt- crystal turquoise spangles,
fritillaries of the seas.
And back and forth the purple sea fans sway,
sieving the seas for all of time, and pipe fish roll
along the sandy floor in ceaseless swish and sway of swell upon the reef,
drawing me in. I am almost done, just revisiting each gem
in disbelief, imprinting on the inner eye.
A great grey grouper sails stately by
with pink and fleshy lips, impassive. I ate his cousin
the night before so wince apology.
And how would Darwin not have dwelt upon these wonders
had he seen, foundation of the origins of earth revealed
through a simple plastic tube and mask
and wondrous light.