Caliban Speaks
Roger Atwood

To F.E.

The ocean streams out in currents,
mottles and welts, uncomfortable
in its bed of stone, twitched by coral, and

somewhere in its blue tissue I hear you
exhaling, measures of blue air burrowing
into your lungs, laying your loins

to fish and eels. Over the lip of the horizon
the island floats its turquoise diatom
on waves lighter than your sighs,

you who call me across the Caribbean
to your island dressed in shoals, a reef,
dark shape of a manta prowling the cosmos.

A boat was crossing the central belly
of the atoll, laboring over the waves,
and I, in a moth of a plane lowering its wheels,

knew you were in that boat returning from
a day under surface with two tanks of life,
barracudas inspecting you with mercury eyes

where the reef drops into darkness, and I, the octopus
that breathes a cloud of ink before you rise
again with more air than you knew how to breathe

and more words than you know how to speak.

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