I row the boats in the tourist caves.
With their “Wows!” and their “Parroty glow,”
they descend from their glaring sunburnt days
to the silent sea below.
The underworld’s black as my hoary beard
but I’ve set up and angled the lights
to show how the ages turn salt into weird
formations: the old stalagmites
as thick as a body, slippery and curved,
like monsters that rise from the waves
to pay back with living with all they’ve deserved
for playing the tourist in caves.
The roof is a forest, a thousand ghosts
of cypress trees reversed
from as fine as needles to thick as posts
as pale and cold as the cursed.
I let the lights show how the caves recede
beyond what a tourist can see:
the opening mouths where darknesses feed
on the silent dripping sea.
I paddle my charges: they hold their breath
as the water silently slides
beneath the boat, as still as death,
through the world that has no tides.
I show them the exit on the opposite shore,
help the women, shake hands with the men,
and nod in response to their “fairy store”:
I know I will see them again.
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