Poems by Janet St. John

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Laguna Grande

Bioluminescent Bay, Puerto Rico

by Janet St. John

From Canary Spring 2015

Janet writes and takes a lot of walks with her dogs in the Sandia foothills, up from the Rio Grande-Albuquerque Watershed.

Look, the sky is sparkling
overhead. And below the dark
water, black as new moon
night, illuminates when we wave
our hands through it. We wizards,
stirring the liquid pot to life. Fragile
plankton born of perfect womb-
warmth, lack of manmade, glaring
light. Ideal conditions. This bay
one concentrated echo of daylight.
We had to travel to reach it.
Pitch-black through the narrow
mangrove channel. Trying to avoid
jutting roots, clawing, stabbing,
low-grabbing branches.
The real journey between us.
You in back. Me in front.
Me, more night-adapted.
I called out the rhythm,
right-left, you couldn’t follow.
I wanted to just get through
all the darkness to the gift.
Because I was tired of paddling
my kayak-life through danger
and obstacles, with uncommunicative
guides, who had navigated this
waterway so many times they could
paddle in their sleep and not slam
into gnarled tree trunks, not nearly
lose an eye. They didn’t need eyes.
They saw in their minds’ eyes.
The right bend here, paddle-paddle left.
The narrowing, other tours, irregular
kayak chains heading toward us
in the blind night. Somehow we avoided
collision in tunnel-dark, going in and out.
But lights on one hill shocked us
back to knowing how light
pollution can damage this place
irreparably. And should it disappear,
should we still be in these bodies,
in this world, when it does,
we would remember. We would
say, Thank God, we saw it.
Before it went extinct, before we killed
another beauty born like love
so naturally, magically. We will remember
because the journey was harrowing,
seemed to test every patience,
each fear, our trust in one another.
The two-person paddling. The sync
of minds and bodies. It took so long
to get here, to find the place,
stir it to luminescence, and take it in.

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