A storm in Corcovado. I’m waist deep
in seed pods and mahogany limbs
ripped from mountain homes. Waves churn
toward every rock, beach, and sand bar
land can offer. Not a tender love – these
relentless crashing kisses. I breach a giant
wave, then another, slamming each time
to a glistening salt bed, each descent a misty
birth, soft-shouldered, rolling, then another.
I swim head down between their crests.
My father told me I would use the things
I don’t know I carry. He never taught me
to cling to the ocean floor, to hold against
the surge with fingers dug in sand:
so this is what he meant,
that life is claimed by a furious kick,
a breath and a desperate swim
until the gentle sea is earned beyond
the violence of waves. I’ll rest a while,
unfolding; one arm stretched
toward Panama, the other, Nicaragua.
Corcovado, I’ll return to you as ashes,
in all your tides and storms, and fine
burgundy clouds at sunrise, with eyes
of ancient brimming forests yielding
to dense salt air and the will of seeds.
J.L. Cooper: published in Barrier Islands Review