To My Astronomer – Love, Your Oceanographer

Nightly, behind a telescope you pine

for elsewhere. For stars, Goliath

gaseous planets, asteroids,

and nebulae. “Lovers want

the moon,” you claim.

I disagree.

You scoff, “Prove it.”

Daybreak, low tide,

I don wet suit and goggles

and pass gulls killing peach crabs

stranded on the quartz shore.

Atlantic surf, gray and frothy, licks my ankles

when I saunter into the sea,

sinking stepwise,

and hike down an inclined

continental slope, rousing

sea floor mud and benthos

heaped underfoot.

I gauge depth

by the water weight

accumulating on my back

and the briskly fading light.

A landmark – a skeleton: whale,

long dead, picked clean. All humpbacks

are Great White here,

their ribs jutting like the private

vestigial legs that most possess,

enduring limbs from landlubber

ancestors who felt dissatisfied

(like you, Darling)

with life on earth and so journeyed

to Earth’s ocean.

Near the Goliath yawns a trench,

a thick mountain range, inverted,

in which I plunge with my parachute,

the sea, cooler than ice in your sweet tea,

black like the astral vacuum

cradling elsewhere.

Jupiter may bloom

for your telescope,

but no lenses purge these depths for you, bar

my near-sighted baby blues.

Once, stargazing in Alaska

we admired our Milky Way,

“Beyond my reach,” you said, sighing.

But now I find the lighted sky

reflected here, below my feet:

luminescent organisms  –

plankton, fish, worms, vampire squid –

identified by light, not form, remarkably

like your planets and stars.

From the deep trench emerges

a submarine moon, one balloon sphere,

milky, glowing, orbiting Atlantic’s basin. I reach

for her, graze cool flesh that trembles.

You wear moon rocks as charms. However,

this slight squid,

Teuthowenia pellucida (Latin:

the italic tongue

of our science and romance)

would die

around your freckled neck, that neck

straining staunchly to support

an upturned face.

(Note: I wrote this poem for the Sargasso Sea.)

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