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