Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Swamp Glass (July 2004)

The day was like every other
in Florida’s long connubial
of light and heat -- the
worker standing in the
shallows of the lake pulling
up weeds in that steady
slow rhythm that has
kept him at this long
seasonal job for so
many years, working
the shores of so
many hundreds of
lakes around Central
Florida -- the mid-
morning sun conducting
a rising choir of crickets
in the reeds, the
occasional rag-tag cloud
overhead slowly fleecing
in others of that flock
in the way of summer
days that by late
afternoon amass to
principalities of air,
cracking heaven wide
and spilling both seas.
But for now, it’s just
the hazing humid
prescience of all that
in a near-dreamy
saturate of heat, the
lake water about him
reflecting back what
life he’s always known
here -- docks leading
back to rich folks’
houses, some shadowy
man in a bass boat
drifting by a ways
out, all of the lake’s
mysteries sealed tight
against the underside
of that brilliant glass
like the hid half of
the moon. He barely
notices the gator
lolling ten feet from
him, its black bark
barely breaking
the surface of the
water -- no big deal,
gators are everywhere
in these lakes, they
approach and watch
and linger and then
drift off. The weeds
pull up soft and mushy
belling with them that
stink that makes you
first think of fish and
pussy and shit at once,
but it’s just for him
the same old redolence
of work as daydreams
down the shore, his
hands in water gripping
roots uplifting memories
of nights now long ago,
before he was this
lonely divorcee,
before he was married
and married before
that; back when it
seemed so many
women smiled at
his tanned Cracker
charm, inviting him to
swim the sweet warms waters
of their welcoming within.
He was reeling slowly in
one of those tales
spooled out along
the the shallows of
his mind of busty
Darlyn, 18, a prissy
and pious waitress at the
Chat n Chew in Eustis
whom he’d talked into
going on a date with him
to go bowling. Instead
he’d takne them
to the RiMar drive-in
to see “Brewster’s Millions.”
She’d protested on
the way there for
what seemed a sufficient
enough while, sawing on
about how she was a
good Christian & saving
herself for her husband
and he’d just agreed,
saying in his soft
twang that his intentions
were pure as silk,
he’d just like to hear
her talk. But later
after she had helped
him work through a
pint of Southern Comfort
in the darkness of his
Ford pickup (the movie
track on the gizmo
hanging from the window
mixed with the softer
stream of laughter,
belches and the high
brogue of moans and
ejaculate sighs coming
from the darkened
vehicles around
them. And suddenly
there broke from
her this other woman whom
perhaps even she didn’t know,
turning to kiss and kiss
him again, then giggle,
and reach down to massage
his crotch, kissing him
with her tongue swimming
deep in his mouth.
Then she unbottoned
her her red polka dot blouse
and tore it and that big
brassiere away, weaving
those magnificent hooters
in his face, slapping his
cheeks with each breast.
He closed his eyes then
falling into the mily soak
and drift of sex which in
this present he tries to
reattach their surficial
part -- as if the spirit
required a house, a horse,
a hearse, that whorish
sweaty stink of perfume
and passion. And then
something woke him from
that dark -- something plinking
him in the nose -- he opened
his eyes to see this glittery
silver cross hanging between
her breasts reaching out
to flick him as she swayed,
sharp and hard and
maddening as hell. He
pulled back to focus
better only to see the strange and
terrible double image of Darlyn’s
breasts superimposed on the
face of Richard Pryor on
the screen much further
behind them, the sweet
fruity fullness of breastmeat
crossed with his ten foot bulging
bug-eyes. The gator struck
right then, its jaws fast as
traps, collapsing in a
instant on his upper thigh.
Sweet Darlyn fled screaming
from those searing red holes
below and the worker was
right here, reassessing
the cruciality of his moment,
in a world of trouble
& the rest of the world
still calm and sleepy
and too hot. He did not
panic but bore back
and wailed with all
his strength, whacking
the gator once but
good with his fist
between the weak
hazy eyes, which seemed
to flutter for an instant
and then wake from
its own dream, loosing
its jaws and slowly
swimming off. The same
day buzzed and droned
everywhere, the lake
still pure as glass
except where he
was stumbling out --
exactly there all
was muddy and richly
red and smelly of
the funk which stiffens
our nose-hairs, alert
to some world in ours
we care or dare or
cannot quite see
and it holding us
exactly there for
that one singular
moment in its gaze,
whispering, pay attention.


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