“Pelagic” first appeared in Hopkins Review, Volume 13, Number 2, Spring 2020. It appears in the book Storm Swimmer, UNT Press, 2023. You can hear a recording of the poem below. You can hear the poet discussing the poem on an episode of Rattlecast, here, starting at the 1 hour 10 minute mark. Learn more about the book here.
"Pelagic" I face an ocean, its lurid rush and pull The same as ever, though I have aged. I step in—small cool splashes on my calves— Then shoulder through hard linebacker waves. I dive beneath a breaker and surface In hissing warm swells, brine on my lips again. I swim a while, then break to breathe and float In foam. A clouded yellow butterfly Has trailed me out and veers nearby. It spins And banks above, my body its nearest ground. It lights on my chest, wings unhurriedly Closing like bellows. I strive to stay still. It’s off, fast as a blink, alive in the sun. I spin over, face down in the lapping Amber glass, the pelagic summer roll Of original sea, the sandy glint Of bubbles climbing in the goggle’s pane, My arm swiping down in time like a fluke, Mottled in swarming undersea light. The breakers roll in to hide the beach from me. I imagine I’m in a world only Ocean and sky, four billion years ago Or in a time to come, floating without The earth to save me, as long as I might.