by Daniel Tobin
paper, 92 pages, $15.95
Who wouldn’t, and I do, envy the diver—
rubber suit, flippers, transparent oval mask
in which his eyes must have burgeoned like balloons,
the air tank a torpedo strapped to his back—
who descended to these depths to find
lodged in the cartoon mouth of a conch, this emerald,
silver-dollar sized, worth a hundred million.
The waters, my friends, were not Wikiwachi’s,
mermaids bobbing like nubile seahorses
through the bikini-infested lagoons
of sixties television, but somewhere further out—
Shark’s Road, a flesh-rag in each sawmill smile;
hull-haunted tidescape where the smuggler’s galley
went down, where fish picked their fingers clean.
It wasn’t greed that spurred the journey—
he handed the gem to the fat-cats who hired him,
preferring his wage and a modest reward;
and though it was luck led him to the prize,
a gift from all the sea’s secrets, it must have seemed
like providence, the deep’s great, good word,
nothing ever, if anything, more beautiful
to come rolling, untranslatable, off the ocean’s tongue.