Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Monday, November 18, 2013

Diving into the Wreck . . . late.

I was drawn to the poetry prompt of a few weeks ago on Poets on a Page yet could not, did not make room for a poem. I could say the poem just didn't come along, like some happy dance or blues that rise up from the bone. But the prompt to read and think about a poem and then write a poem maybe in response to or inspired by or . . . that prompt stayed with me.

I have always loved Adrienne Rich's "Diving Into the Wreck". For Adrienne's poem goes down by layers, tracing her physical descent into deep water, until she faces that essential truth of being nameless, despite all she carries, nameless and facing the death of those who have gone before, equally forgotten. Adrienne has a companion there in the deep, even if it is her twinned self.  Here is my poem in response.

. . . for Adrienne Rich

I too have floated alone,
along the top of ocean waves,
looking fifty, eighty feet down,
seeing the fan coral sway
to unseen currents,
the blue-green sand dip down
and darken to the black unknown.

Silent, I stay long after the others
paddle back to that tiny boat,
my fingers splayed wide to catch
every sense of water and deep,
intrigued as any hunter
at every flicker of life below.

When I finally return,
I have no words.
Each breath I take fills up my chest
with the immense, precious blue below
that I almost understand, that I cannot forget,
like the song of a poet,
like the memory of a dream,
like the last flash of red
before the sun falls into the sea.

Snorkeling Soufriere
Snorkeling Soufriere
Jason Hedlund on Flickr (Creative Commons)


  1. Lovely imagery. I love the ocean and the life within. Just one nitpick--brain coral is rigid, so it can't sway (I'm a SCUBA diver). :)

  2. Thank you, Margit, for pointing out that brain coral doesn't sway. You're right. My recollection of the brain coral from a snorkeling trip suggested that it did. It doesn't. Those brain corals have rigid structures. Even if this is a poem, I'd like it to be accurate -- so revised. :)

  3. I, too, am a fan of Adrienne Rich, in particular "The Wreck" that you cite. Your poem brought back Rich's exploration. Absolutely lovely, Ruth. For what it's worth, I am okay with coral rigid or swaying. I just kept diving.