Before the Shore


Wait. Acres of mangrove roots tangle,

a tousled upheaval, and you

do not know the land. Though it’s

beautiful. Unfamiliar. And the ocean,

oh! is right there. Just past the root snarl,

salted breeze from the water, uh oh, thicker

mud and slip the sole, aye! limbs akimbo,

breathe. There’s nothing that could hurt

you here, though there was that rumor

of alligators—or were they crocodiles?

No, alligators. And displaced pythons so cold

they’re forsaking their nocturnal nature

and slithering out in daylight. Hungry. No.

That’s just another root. It’s your mind making

it slink. But the ocean! It’s there! Through a

window of mesh wood, you see it so close,

you can feel the soft air in your lungs. What

exactly are you afraid of? The alligators?

Really? A little gray mud?  The kettle

of buzzards aswirl overhead? Or the way

the roots twist into jail bars between

where you are and what you want and the lack

of a key or bravery, but the view is so fine

you want it to touch inside your coat, your

dampening socks, your jubilant, scaredycat heart.

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