Journal of Writing & Environment

You think a glass-bottomed boat is an eye

on the other world, opening clear vistas of the depths

you will glide over on the way out to sea –

glimpses of hammerheads and great barracuda


circling, fire coral waving venomous

mustard fronds toward drifting blue schools of Tang,

or simply seaweed, tall as trees, smoothed

against the passing glass like mermaid hair.


But it’s not. From a hot dock,

you board the boat with ninety other people

eager to penetrate the reef, masks and snorkels poised,

and on the rapid journey there, the green road


shrouds poison moons of man o’ war,

the blind eyes of electric eels.

Floating over these warm waves, you feel ready

to question the need to know this realm by name,


as if fluency in undersea

might dissolve the solipsistic tides,

as if fish spoke, in a code one could crack.

The only signs you see are your own:


the shirt you drop overboard as you rise

to frame a shot, sucked under the boat,

presses briefly against the window

before drowning in the wake.


You wonder if this is what you looked for.

All you perceive beneath your traveling craft

is foam churning on a mirror,

sparkling and blinding in the sun.