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Pelagic Garden: Eleuthera

Roberto, our guide, a roundish five-foot two,
seats us in his ancient craft, amid tanks
and nets and ropes, a singly cylinder engine
in the stern, off to view a reef 6 miles at sea.

My wife, content to be a spectator in this
small adventure, remains aboard while I
equipped with mask and snorkel, slide
into the water above the shallow reef.

The scene is almost artificial, so perfectly
placed are waving vegetation, barnacled rocks,
tiny fish in gem-like colors and camouflage.
Current scarcely moves, yet all are alive…

Startled, I rise to ask Roberto if he knows
that a dozen barracuda, long as my arm,
occupy the space below, where I'm to swim,
and not happy at my intrusion.

Though assured they've never bit him,
Roberto's in the boat, while my long legs
dangle temptingly at the toothy barracuda.
Scared, I paddle softly, hold my breath.

This fragile composition thrives in tropic Sun,
seldom seen, has few admirers, I cautiously
observe, collect my frazzled wits, but take
no souvenirs, thankful I can embark unscathed.

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