Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Water Parks (August 2003)

Many of the water parks
in Florida are closing
down: Marineland in
Miami, Cypress Gardens:
now I hear Weeki Wachee
can't pay its bills:
9/11, flaccid gate receipts,
the country's eye
for leisure turned
toward more hyperbolic
thrills: I don't get it:
Those water parks all
poured blue into
my perma aqua
thrall: When
I was 11 we drove
down from Chicago
in a station wagon,
mom four kids
and a dog (my father
staying behind in
the first separation)
We arrived glazed
on highway sights
(billboard, billboard,
traffic, cows) to blink
at the hothouse
startle of Florida,
jots of sun like
molt tigertooth
& the ocean a
merry girly blue:
Staying with my
grandmother in
Jacksonville we
ventured out one
day to ride those
fabled glass bottom
boats that caress
the waters of Weeki
Wachee Springs:
I stared slack-jawed
at the winnowed
revealed there -- fish
and coral and wavy weed
and utmost those
young women with the
long plastic tailfins who
smiled and waved at
me then took hits
from a breathing tube,
bubbles rising from
the corners of their
mouths effervescent
as my mind, their
eyes a glassy blue,
not quite clear, not
quite true, but good
enough, eternally so
for me: And their
hair -- weaving long
tresses of blonde
and brown, even a
goldfish copper red,
all like Ophelia-skirts
of decadent weed,
trailing on a current
that still directs
this pen: I'm sure
the day about and above
us in that boat was
bright and hot, the
knockneed cypresses
trailing ant-moss
on a higher breeze:
But all I can recall
today is that view below
-- more apt, loquacious,
& all I cared to see:
The way I see the world
when I close my eyes:
Driving back north
the highway tale
resumed its droll
count of power poles,
yet when I half-closed
my eyes the blur
of blue resumed, the
windows of our car
the bottom of a boat:
Back in school that
next year -- one of
many wounds and
nascent pleasures --
I stayed faithful to
those springs: For
at time I
commandeered into
my room an
Eskimo girl who lived
down the street:
We'd lay on my bed
"watching the fish"
as I called it: There
was a bowl of goldfish
on my desk next to
my bed, and we'd lay
watching them glissade
in water trailing long
silky tails: As
everything outside
turned cold and gray
I'd lay behind that
girl and stroke the
zipper of her white
pants and breathe
tropic fire:
That's as far as I knew
or cared to go, further
though than I ever
thought to: A dangerous
swim with a silent
girl pinioned next to me:
Watching the fish,
writing it all down:
After my parents split
we moved to Winter
Haven, a mile from
Cypress Gardens: I don't
think I ever saw the show
but I did go skiing on
the same lake, cutting
through their course,
the skis on me feet
like oars on glass,
fast and smooth
over a jaw of blue:
Once we drove
down to Lauderdale
to hit Marineland:
Watching those grey
dolphins romp and strut
was like staring down
into the tank of my
hormones: Such glee
to watch them leap
high and higher for
a fish, leaving a wake
of water flashing brilliant
in the sun, then falling
hard into a collapse
of blue: I guess
such entertainments
no longer hold enough
thrall: Too much TV,
video games, the thrill-
seeker's candied roar:
But I will always hold
those memories dear:
They door a passage
into a water world
filled with fish
and fakey mermaids,
gold fins and hair aswirl.


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