ON THE SURFACE
A cork crumb in the wine dark sea,
I float between distractions:
Every ten meters feels like one martini.
You might not notice, you might only feel
last night’s rum. The straps of the mask
strangle the brain, those shards of light,
a pleasant sense of comfort and ease. Don’t let it
cloud your judgment. Keep an eye on your gauges
keep your eyes from dancing
on the broken mirror of the waves.
Remember, you’ll be using more air at these depths.
The wreck is 40 meters down. You don’t want to be
Caught staring. But hard not to, that white bikini top’s
tan-line suggestions, those neoprene-wrapped thighs…
Any deeper than that, you’ll be trouble. Don’t worry
about the sharks—harmless as puppies
A little over-excited. Panting. Nervous.
If I weren’t so hot and hungover, I’d
remember to never rise faster than your bubbles
and decompress before surfacing
get up and say hello. Tell her about loss and love.
But my mouth’s dead clam dry. And not a drop to drink.
NIGHT DIVE (LAKE HURON)
Swimming is the second best excuse
but always easier to articulate.
Rationalizing it to each other and ourselves
one of those heavy summer evenings
when the skin lusts toward moisture;
the lake there, as it always has been, and never
will be again. Undressing with backs turned,
too young to feel beautiful, but old enough
to recognize it in others. Running
into the open arms of the waves.
The chiaroscuro of alcohol and moonlight—
Rembrandt himself would have dropped his brush.
I touched you through the proxy of splashes
wanted to show you everything:
This is where I learned to swim.
Off that pier I had my first dive.
This is my youth, my life so far.
And this is my ambition:
About the Writer
Chris Oke is working on a collection about scuba diving and Jacques Cousteau, fathers and sons. Poems from this collection have appeared in Queen’s Quarterly, Malahat Review, Canadian Literature, Dalhousie Review, Antigonish Review, Grain, EVENT, Nashwaak Review and Existere. Chris is also a founding editor of Errant, a literary travel writing magazine (www.errantmagazine.ca).
-- Sonnet VII: Grandfather’s Oranges
-- Sonnet XXVI: What to Buy in a HK Metro Station
-- Girls, Girls, Girls Dancing on Tables, Eating Octopus
-- To the Person(s) Who Stole My Bicycle
-- Sometimes My Mother is a Child
-- shadowgraph 129: the behavior of the deep
-- grace notes (jazz triptych)