After Extreme Unction - Poem by Patti Masterman
Hazardous-waste contagions are abundant here, and
There are so many yawning, open pits you can trip and fall into:
Like many before, I thought: I’ll escape to the sea-
But at the right apogee and galaxial rotation, just at the peak tides
Of the new moon, when the storm surges can become centrifugal sledghammers:
I jump in, eyes closed, clutching my anvil of regrets
As I go down into the ocean, I sink like lead
Into the riptides; the Marianas trench of falling forever:
I give up, arms, legs splayed doll-like, sinking down to
Titanic darkness. Agoraphobic squeezing; my eyes pinpoints,
Lungs exploding, ear-drums rupturing.
All hope burns out in one shuddering, twitching gasp.
The dull roar of every sea disaster before mine,
Seems to bounce back and forth under the waves,
Like a game of hide-and-seek; now closer and now farther away,
The echoes of cannonballs fired during long ago battles and
Lost treasures racing me to the seabed far below.
Still clutching, I go down, sightless eyes open in the watery continuum,
My lips mouthing nonsense riddles as the brains fuses are blowing,
Like rivets coming undone in a scuttled submarine,
Sacrificed to keep its secrets undefiled. Everything turns to inky blackness.
The cool current gives me absolution as the neurons finally cease firing.
I am floating down there in that vast, gently-rocking tomb of silence where
The cast-aways, the escapees of life, have slowly been accumulating;
The half-dissolved skulls on the bottom grinning sardonically,
With their vacant eyes and gaping sea fern-tongued mouths-
Now they themselves, are the randomly arranged trophies of the
Giant-tenacled, graceful monsters of the deep.
But suddenly the eclipse concludes; the galaxy shifts
A few microseconds away from Andromeda again,
The abating tides begin to flow outward, reversing themselves tsunami-style,
Underwater volcanoes start to bubble and froth furiously,
Deep currents welling to the surface;
Seismic waves from the sea floor causing a thermal updraft.
Dolphins and whales start popping up like air-filled buoys, above the surface.
I am belched out; bedraggled, stuffed voodoo doll, askew upon the rocks.
The brightness blinds me for a while, and the air rebounds with a hollow ring.
There’s sand in my eyes and mouth and nostrils;
Camoflaged with mud and seaweed from the deep bottomlessness forever,
Looking like the expelled, deformed spawn of the local school of mermaids,
Hailed as fearless explorer, instead of cowardly expatriate wanna-be,
And the entire universe chanting: breathe, breathe, keep breathing-
There is a higher power past extreme unction, and no natural law can oppose it.
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