Are fishing vessels like the dreaded shark,
that swims endlessly when wetted by sea?
No mourning nor merriment owed the dark,
and miles between the hull and the quay.
They persistently glide on ocean tides,
measuring time by space left in the hold.
There’s a secret some sailors will confide,
each outing ends in a death unforetold.
There is the pleasant death of days at rest,
but then there’s becoming Poseidon’s guest.
The river twists through a barren landscape.
Filling with flotsam, detritus, and silt,
dragging death downstream,
it will pour into a bright, blue sea.
You should savor that scene,
but your view is from above,
and so you see a shit-colored plume
splaying into the clear, calm waters.
And you fear the shit stain
will spread across the sea.
But it doesn’t.
It seems to settle.
You never knew the clear and calm could
subdue those murky, mucky waters.
Bai Tu Long Bay is the lesser known–but geographically larger–sibling of Ha Long Bay. It’s name refers to baby dragons, and it derives from the same myth from which Ha Long got its name (i.e. “Descending Dragon.”) Like Ha Long it’s considered a scenic wonder because of the skerries jutting up out of the sea.
We were told that we got a lucky break in getting a clean sunrise during our visit because it’s usually overcast. (Our tour straddled New Years.) It was overcast almost the whole time, but I tend to be skeptical of people selling an experience.
Wind kicks at her hem.
The skirt flaps and snaps.
White cotton surrendering
to stiff seaside gusts.
A palm shoots to thigh
to bar the immodest scene
of goose-bumped flesh.
A fishing boat chugs through the sound.
Puttering on sputtering engines
–then silence and drift.
A surefooted seamen stands and slings
a net that splays open like pizza dough.
It lands gently on shimmering seas,
and sinks into green-blue waters in slow motion.
Trying to snare an unsuspecting catch.
Snorkelers ride the swells
like drifting corpses.
Mesmerized by a new world below
Awe expires from tubes,
rising and evaporating in sun-warmed air
Sailboats rock like metronomes–
masts counting out a rhythm,
a planetary pulse
retreating seas pull sand underfoot
He leans into the trudge,
his body-weight barely defeating the sea’s suction.
Red and white lanterns drift aloft.
Slanting up into night skies over the bay.
Light flickers and dances
before flashing into cinder
that will fall silently into churning waves.
Water gurgles in rocky sumps at the sea’s edge.
The tiny caverns floods like a heart chamber,
scurrying metallic green crabs flee out onto the rocks.
No two tides are identical–nature surprises even veterans.