from the incinerating heat above
through the cool water,
speckled with sunlight,
and then drift
weighted, but weightless
in the silence…
Sculptures of ancient rock conceal
an extraordinary profusion of life—
I move closer…a pair of feelers
shrinks back into a dark crevice,
a clownfish nibbles
on a strand of my sunlit hair, the shadow
of a stingray passing overhead…
Suspended in a living art gallery
of creatures, bizarre and magical,
we breathe in a vaudevillean kaleidoscope
of parrotfish, chocolate dips,
Picasso triggerfish, coral trout, pineapple fish,
swarming shoals of baitfish—the exhibition is endless…
are expelled through the bubbles
of the deep,
pace of breathing;
my senses are heightened,
but I am completely
Above the brain
coral, a horseshoe leatherjacket
on its side in a cleaning station, enjoys the nibbling
of the cleaner wrasse
in its mouth and gills…
A cuttlefish sashays past,
eyeing me coyly,
displaying its fabulous
Mardi gras costume as I wave
my hand in its direction.
A saucy, painted red-lipped
morwong flicks past,
while a dugong smilingly lopes along—
an underwater burlesque
and Carnivale all rolled into one.
at the phantasmagoria of the deep…
gregarious Maori wrasse engages,
while the Neanderthal of the sea—
the prehistoric stonefish—sits unseen
and deadly on the bottom,
camouflaged as a rock.
The dark side is right here—
Look but don’t touch!
Don’t peer too closely into the nooks and crannies!
Don’t dive too long or stay too deep!
And always there,
on the fringes
of my consciousness, lurk
the sharks. Thrilling!
perhaps a little faster.
Low on air,
time to go, but we will be back
to explore the endless
and search for the elusive
weedy sea dragon.
from my favourite place.