“Turtle Territory” by Lori McNamara, oil on archival board, 2011.
(See also “Hatchlings” by William Woolfitt.)
When I swam away from Gloria Regalbuto the catamaran captain
was watching from the stern as I thrashed about with leg cramps
and waved and began my stop-and-start swim back to the boat.
It was summer. He had anchored off the North Shore of Oahu
and now he was smiling, reaching out as I grabbed a ladder.
Maybe I would have done anything to leave behind the aahh
of her loved mouth and a longing so hot it kept singeing me
and searing the air. Onboard again, I flopped awkwardly
in a corner. Leaned against a great deal of brightness.
I heard dolphins voicing, their fins whipping up
wingtip-white vortices as they raced the catamaran.
My time under water had flashed with starburst fishes
stock-still in the currents and reef as if what they were
was backdrop for a mirror of North Shore blue. I heard
someone treading water and scented a brine of ocean.
Planes of island light broke apart and reformed as if
vanishing and now revealing someone who waited
in the trough of a wave by the rocking catamaran.
Roy Bentley is the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry from the National
Endowment for the Arts, and fellowships from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the Ohio Arts Council. Books include Boy in a Boat (University of Alabama), Any One Man (Bottom Dog), The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana (White Pine), Starlight Taxi (Lynx House); as well as Walking with Eve in the Loved City, a finalist for the 2018 Miller Williams Poetry Prize selected by Billy Collins and due out from the University of Arkansas Press.