Nautilus

When I found you
on a beach in Fiji,
you’d floated up from depths
where even avid divers
could not reach you.

Through years of ebb and tide
your countershading
kept you hidden
from all predators.
Seen from above
your undulating pattern
blended with the deep
while from below
your perfect whiteness faded
into sunlit seas .

Like the Argonauts
for whom you’re named
you propelled yourself
with perfect ease
pumping in and pumping out
and dined but once a month
on small crustaceans
within easy reach.
Cloistered in your chambered shell,
you were a world
unto yourself.

How I envied
your splendid isolation.
What incalculable bliss
to withdraw into
a pearlescent shell,
close off the opening
and sink one hundred metres deep.
Then I remembered that
for drowning sailors
the darkness of the sea
can also be a shroud,
and I’m not ready for the grave.

I want to sleep but not forever.
I like the anonymity of night
but even more
the sunlight dancing
on the surface of the sea.
I crave solitude
but even more
my lover’s healing touch.

(originally published in Cyclamens and Swords)

 

nautilus

 

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